Once again, here comes the word of the decade. The one that you have probably already managed to get bored with. But what happens when your favourite beer’s price rises significantly and your exchange opportunities are not that clear as they were meant to be? Crisis.
‘Financial crisis is undoubtedly a serious menace to our society’. This is a phrase many are eager to repeat. However, up until now, we have felt distance and detachment of what the actual effects of these words are. We can no longer live in such isolation from the reality. Civil unrest is the embodiment of inaction.
To materialize the point, we should take a deeper look at the situation in Spain. It all started when the government decided to change the constitution in order to incorporate private debt into the public sector. Combine it with the general discontentment regarding the financial situation of the country and individuals and, voilà, hell broke loose. Effects? Massive riots in the capital, devastation of private property, record levels of unemployment- these are the most evident examples of the gravity of current events. Dramatic reports about locking up trash bins as a prevention against scavenging seem to be somewhat exaggerated, but their very existence proves the pressure of the social climate Spanish people face.
The second notable victim of the on-going malady is France. Frequently criticised for their “revolutionary” zeal, French people may now feel free to express their indignation. The new wave of the crisis affects everyday life of a citizen, as the government is looking for new ways of increasing revenue. Obviously, budget cuts do not suffice- hence a controversial tax hike on beer and cigarettes. The implementation of 75% tax rate for the richest looks like a temporary painkiller, rather than a reasonable solution. Moreover, business is fleeing from France, alongside with its wealthiest man: Bernard Arnault, who applied for a Belgian citizenship. Numerous protests and current opinion polls attest a significant decrease in popularity of recently elected President Francois Hollande.
On the European level, varied ways of solving the problem are put under scrutiny. These include further integration and the limitations of individual members’ sovereignty. Move towards political union are being openly considered. However, issues as Erasmus Programme going bankrupt successfully highlight the seriousness of the problems that the continent is facing.
These are important times we live in. With the European Union’s integration or decay, the future is being formed before our very eyes. The question arises: is Europe ready for a next step?
Photo courtesy of the Guardian