Calling for a "European Europe, which can fulfill its mission to bring peace, freedom, justice, and solidarity to the world," a group of German economists, academics, policy advisers, and Social Democrats has issued a 12-point manifesto that rejects austerity, German hegemony, and right-wing extremism within the EU.
Adopting the principles of the manifesto, according to its 14 authors, would help establish a Europe "in which it—in accordance with our European hymn—is a joy to live."
"A 'European' Europe is based on the sense of responsibility, the capacity of discernment, courage, and commitment of all Europeans instead of German dominance."
The document, issued last week and translated into English by the Brussels-based Foundation for European Progressive Studies "in order to enhance the debate amongst progressives in Europe," is a pointed critique of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom the signatories charge "has been directing her European policy on domestic electoral goals with no historical compass."
Merkel has faced criticism for her government's role in pushing austerity politics across the continent, especially in the context of the ongoing Greek financial crisis, which some viewed as an attempt to profit off the country's woes.
"Merkel and [Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schäuble refuse political rules which support solidarity in Europe because they mistrust the democratic sense of responsibility, particularly in our southern European neighbors," the manifesto reads. "They therefore promote a definitive legal installation of German austerity politics in Europe, overriding democratic policies in favor of technocrat led control with no empirical research on the suitability of such politics."
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"Therefore," it continues, "in the coming months and years all will depend on the fight for a 'European' democratic Europe, justice, solidarity, diversity, and prosperity in Greece and throughout Europe. A 'European' Europe is based on the sense of responsibility, the capacity of discernment, courage, and commitment of all Europeans instead of German dominance."
To that end, the signatories further demand debt relief, solidarity with refugees, and transparency in economic negotiations. They specifically call for an investment-driven rather than austerity-driven strategy to avoid the complete breakdown of the Greek economy.
And while these criticisms and demands are familiar, the manifesto stands out because of its backers. "This is not the first critical voice in Germany against austerity politics," wrote the online publication New Europe. "However, this carries the weight of German economists that are very much part of the policy elite in Germany and the EU."
The group includes World Health Organization vice president Detlev Ganten; Gustav Horn, of the German Institute of Economic Research; former German minister for foreign aid Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul; and Social Europe editor Henning Meyer.