The Guardian reports on a forthcoming Red Cross report on the long-term consequences of austerity:
Europe is sinking into a protracted period of deepening poverty, mass unemployment, social exclusion, greater inequality, and collective despair as a result of austerity policies adopted in response to the debt and currency crisis of the past four years, according to an extensive study being published on Thursday.
"Whilst other continents successfully reduce poverty, Europe adds to it," says the 68-page report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "The long-term consequences of this crisis have yet to surface. The problems caused will be felt for decades even if the economy turns for the better in the near future … We wonder if we as a continent really understand what has hit us."
The damning critique, obtained exclusively by the Guardian, of the policy response to the debt crisis that surfaced in Greece in late 2009 and raised fundamental questions about the viability of the euro single currency, foresees extremely gloomy prospects for tens of millions of Europeans.
Mass unemployment – especially among the young, 120 million Europeans living in or at risk of poverty – increased waves of illegal immigration clashing with rising xenophobia in the host countries, growing risks of social unrest and political instability estimated to be two to three times higher than most other parts of the world, greater levels of insecurity among the traditional middle classes – all combine to make a European future more uncertain than at any time in the postwar era.
And on a related note, Dissent recently published a special issue on the ineffectual response of the European left. From the introduction:
Those interested in the European left may be the most depressed of all. Despite widespread economic problems and suffering, there has been no upsurge in support for the left. Indeed, when the crisis first hit, most electorates initially turned to center-right parties for solutions. Similarly, the mainstream left has not been able to put forward convincing, coherent, or effective responses to European publics’ cultural fears, first ignoring and then incoherently addressing identity and immigration issues, and vacillating on the role of Europe.