More than 10.000 people filled the streets of Frankfurt for a peaceful protest on Wednesday, in regard to the event of the European Central Bank unveiling its new headquarters in the financial hub.
As prior to the opening announced Blockupy, the organizer of the demonstration, an alliance of anti-capitalist social movement groups proclaimed mass actions to disturb the opening. Those intended peaceful actions quickly escalated into violence as cars where set on fire and vandalism took its way through the city. Countered by a huge police deployment to de-escalate the situation it rather turned into a witch-hunt, which resulted in over 80 police men injured, and several protesters in custody. Although Blockupy distances itself from the erupted violence it counters the attacks by the media of not having the control over its own people by regarding the happenings as symbol for people´s actual frustration.
Why these massive protests erupted? As there were many Spokespersons during the event, among those, Sahra Wagenknecht, a politician of the left party and member of Bundestag, it all comes down to one standpoint. As the ECB, along with the European Commission and International Monetary Fund, is part of the so called “troika” which supervises bailout loans, a situation in which money is offered to a government to prevent the consequences that arise from a states downfall, to financially unsettled countries in Europe.
By criticizing austerity policies by the ECB, which is responsible for mass joblessness, especially in states like Greece it’s moreover about the constant financial injections, which ultimately end up in the pockets of the elite, and thus makes the riche richer and the poor poorer.
Consequently, Blockupy calls out for a Europe of the people, with social stability, education and future generations prosperity, instead of millionaires. However, the most significant issue at stake is Mario Draghi´s consistent lowering of interest rate since 2010. In theory, this measure was to attract investors and consequently create jobs in financially troubled European countries, in practice however, the recent years have shown that this policy realisation is troublesome in states like Greece. As reality harshly indicates the ability for Greek investors to receive loans at cheap rate is non-existent which is mainly due to the capital shortage in Greece. As the vice president of the German-Greek Chamber of Trade illustrates, general difficultly of receiving short term liquidity loans is significant. However, the issue at stake here are prior loans by investors which are still not secured. Not surprisingly the old debt keeps investors from actually being able to benefit from the low interest rates since for the previous loans interest rates are still high. Regarding the huge involvement in Frankfurt it illustrates that the ECB is a symbol for all the things that are going wrong in Europe. Draghi by holding a speech from the new 1, 3 billion euro headquarter claimed it would be “not fair” to single out the ECB for unpopular austerity restrictions and called for more responsibility on part of the protesters.
As the debate about how to handle financially troubled European states has been there for years, and this part is only a very short contribution regarding the events in Frankfurt, only the recent years have shown how the ECB has become a superpower in the world’s financial market. Especially Draghi position as the most powerful banker of the world was illustrated when his intimidating quote “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. Believe me, it will be enough” stopped the entire skepticism about the survival of the Euro within minutes. Тhe future will show what means will be necessary to take.