Swoboda: "Europe must lead, not lag behind the US in war against inequality"
Socio-economic inequalities in Europe are higher today than in the 1980s, further amplified by the destructive austerity policies imposed in response to the crisis. In his State of the Union address US President Obama has pledged to fight inequalities in America, while Europe continues to suffer from the right-wing's callous indifference to the growing divisions in society.
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said:
"Inequality is the number one challenge of the 21st century. The crisis in Europe has further increased inequalities and hit the most vulnerable the hardest. To get out of the crisis, the kind of unbalanced, feeble recovery some countries have shown is not enough. We need to see the creation of jobs with decent salaries, wider availability of education and training, and greater upward social mobility.
"Mr Obama has made a clear commitment to fighting inequalities in the US, by lifting the minimum wage, by removing socio-economic barriers, by facilitating access to education and by creating jobs with decent pay. This is good news for the US and for the world, but Europe has to make sure it doesn't lag behind the US.
"Europe must lead the fight against inequalities. Suffocating austerity measures hitting the poorest and the Troikas' short-sighted excesses have exacerbated inequalities. A long-term investment strategy for sustainable, high-tech and research-based jobs, as well as modern industry and manufacturing, will reduce inequalities and return Europe to its global leadership role."