Portuguese national memory cannot recall an historical moment in Portugal’s contemporary age as hard as the present one – not even the decolonization days back in 1975 (the abrupt landing of over one million national and african refugees) seem to be comparable to what has been happening since the outset of the global financial crisis and the euro political failure. Portuguese philosopher José Gil considers the situation to be without parallel: «Portuguese individuals have been expelled from their own territory, although paradoxally they continue to occupy it as zombies, while becoming spectral beings.» No wonder that when interrogated they declare they do not feel European.
The Portuguese Constitution is being overcome by EU/IMF/ECB driven austerity measures, depriving the country from its more than eight centuries sovereingty and people from human dignity: massive emigration for survival purposes, and for those who stay in the territory – former middleclass citizens turned back into poors – precarity, unemployment, hunger, the poorest surviving on charity, deprived from proper social support as a result of the sudden huge desinvestment on the welfare State.
When joining the EU, Portugal was underdeveloped, as a result of the 48 years dictatorship’s closed economy. Thus, it had to put more investment than other countries, namely into Education, although it wasn’t enough to equal other EU development indicators: between 1993 and 2011 Portugal’s evolution in basic Education (percentage of population aged from 25 to 64 having finished secondary school) grew from 20,0% to 35,0%, as in Spain it evolved from 25,5% to 53,8%, in Greece from 39,1% to 64,5%, in France from 56,0% to 71,6% and in Germany from 79,4% to 86,3% (source: PORDATA). This is why every constitutional right and social protection mechanism that is now taken away means years added to Portugal’s former XXth century underdevelopment.
Near to 28 years after joining the EU and 12 years since entering the eurozone, Portugal is far from meeting other EU countries development indicators, has lost its own economical traditional activities (given away in exchange for mis-used development funds), and in only two years (since 2011) the so-called ‘socialization of the sovereign debt’ (together with the privatization of public services and the huge increase in all taxes) led Portugal to economical and social devastation, revealling an under-evaluated and under-reported reality: huge austerity is underveloping Portugal to a level of non-return empoverishment of its population.
In average/GDP, Portuguese State is spending more in social expenses related to unemployment than much bigger population countries such as Germany (source: OECD stats/July 2013), while precarious workers assure 55,5% of all labor force, 41% of the younger are unemployed (source Eurostat 06/2013) and near 3 million Portuguese citizens are either precarious or unemployed, in a country where the humanitarian impacts of the global economy’s financial crisis and the failure of the EU monetary policy are growing fast, as recent data has been documenting and namely the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’2013 report.
Although widely documented and often shown concerning Greece, fast social erosion resulting from ‘austerity days’ in Portugal remains mostly unknown outside the country. Blinded by Spain (itself in economical and social convulsion) Portugal’s real misery remains hidden behind Europe’s austerity “good pupil” narratives, while EU common policies are deeply affecting real people’s lifes, at the exact moment when the EU common budget for 2014-2020 is for the first time reduced for cohesion expenses (less 3,5% than previous 7 year’s period), cutting 9,7% in Portugal’s communitary funds.
European Union needs some consequent debating on its future as a community of nations abiding a Fundamental Rights Charter (2000, revised 2010), as well as on its federation and convergence goals that can no longer be only based on a common market that has been dealing with nations as if they were companies, while increasing inequality and jeopardizing democracy within the EU. S.A. [12.2013]