Blockupy – a Live Report from Frankfurt, Germany

Blockupy in Frankfurt, Spotlight Europe
Austerity = Murder? A live report from Frankfurt (Picture: Spotlight Europe)

This morning when I left the metro station “Lokalbahnhof” on my way to work nothing seemed to be out of the usual – at first sight. Traffic was going loudly and slowly as always until I noticed the mass of cars standing at the crossroads. I walked past a man and a woman who discussed with a police officer standing next to two cars that had apparently crashed.

Entering the office I heard the sounds of a helicopter through the open window. I began to wonder first but then it all made sense: The unusual traffic, helicopters encircling the city and the unnerving slow motion attitude of public transport this morning. Today the new building of the European Central Bank has been officially inaugurated. Tens of thousands of people have met in Frankfurt’s east city to protest against the austerity programs in the European Union. They have even come from other European countries to give voice to their frustration.

Sitting in the office it all seems to be far away to me. The noise outside and the permanent sight of helicopters overviewing the east district with the new ECB tower reminds me of a Hollywood picture in which King Kong is starring. I am checking the headlines now. “Citizens in fear”, is one. Also: “Scenes of protest”. There are pictures of burning police cars, loose stones that have been thrown, two policemen supporting a woman whose nose is bleeding. I see black smoke arising from inflamed tires. What is going on???

Blockupy, SpotlightEurope
Riots near the new ECB building. (Picture: Spotlight Europe)

This movement which takes place here today in Frankfurt has a name: Blockupy. It unites those people who are dissatisfied with the way the EU is handling its monetary policies. Saving money in times of crisis may seem comprehensible but nobody wants to be the one whose budget and services are being cut drastically. But this is exactly what happened in countries like Spain, Italy or Greece. There are many who lost everything due to the enforced austerity programs of an institution that does not even reside in their country. From their view it must look like a bad joke: The ECB is opening its own new glass temple while so many Europeans fear for their future and the maintenance of their living standards. They see themselves as the losers in the game of financial power and economic recovery. And to be honest about it: Yes, as taxpayers we do have to shoulder the burden of political decisions and economic actions. Europe’s weight is pressing on us heavier than ever.

Blockupy, Spotlight Europe
Who is responsible? For sure not the Euro symbol… (Picture: Spotlight Europe)

But who is responsible for the consequences of the measures taken? For sure neither the damaged police cars nor the police itself. For sure not the new ECB tower and least of all not Frankfurt’s citizens who will have to pay for the damages done so far. The real anger and frustration is directed towards decision-makers in politics, the finance lobby and some poor scapegoats working for the ECB. The new ECB tower is merely a symbol and troubling its inauguration ceremony means to raise the highest possible awareness for the cause of the protest.

I am checking the headlines again. There is a peaceful manifestation in the city center. People are standing together and listening to speeches by the movement’s organizers. I hear the distant siren of a police car, probably rushing to prevent another object going up in flames. Ironically it is our tax money that is being sacrificed to the fire. Nobody can predict what will happen in the evening. But one thing is for sure: Violence is no appropriate instrument to vent one’s dissatisfaction.

About the author:

Juliane works for “My Europe” in Frankfurt, Germany.

Let`S Be Clear

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl, Spotlight Europe
A new series by the “My Europe” initiator Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl has started. (picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

A new series has started on Spotlight Europe! Each week, the founder of “My Europe” Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl will present his thoughts on ongoing matters in the European Union. He will show which role the youth can take to make its interests in current and future European affairs known.

Riots, fear and uncertainty about tomorrow’s events prevail in Europe. Populist left-wing and right-wing groups threaten to compress freedom and jolt the doors of the European fortress:

– In Greece Alexis Tsirpas who is leading the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) has recently become prime minister.

– In Spain, the new populist left-wing movement Podemos has assembled a considerable amount of supporters.

– In France, Marine Le Pen is constantly gaining support for her right-wing party Front National.

– In Italy, Matteo Salvini has successfully transformed the conservative Lega Nord party into a populist, right-wing Anti-Euro party.

– In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders advocates nationalism with his right-wing party PVV.

– In Great Britain, the patriotic Ukip party which is led by Nigel Farage (who has a seat in the European Parliament by the way) demand their country to leave the eurozone.

– In Denmark, the Danish right-wing populist party DF rejoices at an increasing support among voters.

– In Austria, the Freiheitliche Partei Österreich (FPÖ) is also gaining momentum.

These parties clearly want to build a different Europe and seek to abolish its common currency, the Euro. Their further claims are regionalization and nationalization. With the help of negative populist slogans these groups discredit the unity of Europe and deliberately endanger the common currency.

“Europe has a historic obligation.”

Once you have taken notice of their statements, you also have to keep in mind that after centuries of war and expulsion which resulted in the death of millions of people, the unification of these European countries is historically unique and shows that peace is always an option. Sometimes the fact is forgotten that European nations like Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France and to a minor degree also Germany (and since the beginning of the 20th century also the United States of America) used to dominate the world and exploited their colonies causelessly. The afflicted nations in South America, Asia and Africa still haven’t forgotten about this difficult time. Especially Europe – the European Union – has a historic obligation to do its utmost to promote a peaceful coexistence of people on all continents.

Europe’s youth, which is heir to this historical dimension, wants peace and freedom. The young Europeans aged between 15 and 25 years who engage in the “My Europe” initiative, stand together behind a unified Europe and the Euro as common currency.

For them, the Euro is not only a solely financial factor but a common culture and identity that they will defend with all possible means.

“We want to call the youth for advocating the European values.”

The Youth Council for the Future has recently presented five criteria that clearly and uncompromisingly indicate how Europe’s future should be designed. These are: Gender, Education, Religion, Tolerance and Employment.

These are the central topics that have been voted on in a poll among the adolescents. These are also the topics that they want to work on in order to shape a peaceful future.

You as young people – your are Europe´s future!

We want to call the youth for advocating the European values and to resist all groupings that seek to defeat these values or make use of them exclusively, that discriminate minorities and/or work against the equality of people.

Young people of all countries, unite! Make it plain to all political, economic and social groups that you want to live in freedom and peace.


About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…