Auditing the debt economy and ecological debt in SEE

Auditing the debt economy and ecological debt in SEE: Regional alternatives in public finance and infrastructure in the Balkans

20 March 2019, from 9:00 – 14:00

European Environmental Bureau, Rue des Deux Eglises 14-16, Brussels

The spectacular growth in public debt in SEE is usually presented as a problem of excessive state spending caused by a lack of business-friendly environments for foreign investors. The question of whether reforms promoted under EU accession agreements or IMF Stand By Arrangements are making the region more dependent in the long term on foreign borrowing, whilst placing a strain on public finances in the short term, is rarely asked.  In the same way, the EU is promoting debt financed infrastructure projects, primarily through the enlargement of the Transport and Energy Communities, where finance is conditional on public-private partnerships. Neither the public nor CSOs are consulted about whether investment in energy exports is ecologically or financially sustainable, or whether the chronic overdependence on road transport should be encouraged. This conference presents an opportunity to discuss CSO perspectives from the region and alternative models of public finance.

This conference presents innovative research from the CSO sector in SEE on the interlinked crises of public debt, infrastructure and the environment in the region. Public debt is seen as a consequence of a failed model of finance led growth and as a socialisation of private debt. Increased public borrowing from the IFIs transfers the costs of private debt to citizens in the form of austerity and cuts in publics services. Under the terms of conditionality, regional states are obliged to taken on further debt to finance investment projects that are financially unviable and environmentally degrading, and benefit no one but the private corporations that will manage these lucrative concessions. There is no economic benefit to these projects in terms of employment or public revenue, merely an intensification of the circuit of financial (out)flows, and a deepening debt bondage of the region.

The full programme is available here.

Participation in the event is free of charge, but for organisational reasons we welcome registration here.

To read more about debt and infrastructure in Southeast Europe, please see our regional reports on debt and infrastructure, as well as the accompanying policy briefs (debtinfrastructure).

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