The cuts programme is Europe-wide. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Greece are all making big cuts in social provision.
This is a social and political choice by the ruling classes. In the tumult of 2008, many mainstream writers said that neo-liberalism was dead, and capitalist governments would have to seek a new programme, possibly conceding more social provision.
Yet the EU governments are gambling on a push for a strongly neo-liberal way forward from the crisis.
That means gearing government policy to making the eurozone an attractive site for footloose global capital to perch in:
- Having frantic financial markets, seamlessly integrated into global financial flows, central to the economy;
- Open borders for capital and commodities (not necessarily people);
- Low taxes on the rich and corporations;
Although state governments in the USA (all bar Vermont tied by balanced-budget laws) are pushing through big cuts, the US federal government is still unapologetic about continuing large deficit spending, and so is the Japanese government. That difference is not really about a break with neo-liberalism, but the different ways that the USA and Japan are inserted into the global economy.
The Europe-wide cuts drive calls for a cross-European workers' fightback. The top-level European Trade Union Confederation has called a Europe-wide day of action on the theme "no cuts, more growth" - for 29 September! More urgency is needed.
The first demand should be for the cancellation of the crippling debts owed by many European governments to European banks, and the taking over of all the big banks and financial institutions across Europe, to be run as an integrated, publicly-owned, democratically-controlled banking, pension, and mortgage service.
The second should be for social guarantees across Europe - minimum wages, job protection, welfare benefits, pensions - levelled up to the best current standards, and funded on a European level.
The third, a Europe-wide emergency programme of public works to tackle unemployment and pauperisation. Workers' control of the big multinationals, to steer production toward need and to guarantee every worker the right to a decent job.
Those demands require a campaign for a democratic republican United States of Europe. The existing bureaucratic structures should be replaced by a sovereign elected European Parliament with full control over all EU affairs.
The European Union (carbon) Emissions Trading Scheme should be replaced by a programme to reconvert energy-generation, industry, transport, and city planning, under workers' control, on sustainable lines.
Socialists and trade unionists in Britain should make the best and closest links they can for this battle with our comrades across Europe.