Is the age of austerity tip-toeing to an end?
It's probably extremely hard to believe for those living with the cuts and consequences but four years after the start of the Euro Crisis that question is starting to be asked in Brussels. No one's saying it very loudly yet but, as leaders meet at the European Council later today, whether austerity is working is now being mulled over.
Officially this summit is about growth and how to stimulate it through structural reform. That’s EU speak for finding ways to create more employment within the 27 countries of Europe and reduce barriers to trade. But with a growing public anger and disillusionment – demonstrated most recently in Italy – slow, fragile growth and rising unemployment, there is a concern that something may need to change.
“If you could generate growth through discussions we’d have an awful lot of it, ” one EU insider told me yesterday, adding:
And that’s what’s likely behind draft conclusions for the summit which seek an appropriate mix of expenditure and revenue measures including a determination to boost growth and jobs, particularly for the young. There may also be movement on EU targets for state deficit cutting as France becomes the latest to miss its target.
It’s a slow process, but one which is gaining popularity. The same advisor added: