Millions of people in the EU are now dependent on the Red Cross for food aid, as a result of unemployment and austerity. In more than two-thirds of EU countries, the charity has begun distributing food to desperate people. It started in Greece and spread from there. Today in Spain
three million people are turning to charity for food hand-outs, the highest figure since the end of World War II.
This is appalling. The crisis in the euro-zone is reducing Europe to a Third World standard of living. Debt, austerity, cuts, unemployment, economic downturn....and its not getting any better. In Spain where so many prestige projects were built so recently with EU money - museums, airports, motorways, stadiums - people queue for food parcels and appeal for help with their rent, water and fuel bills. The Red Cross is now supplying emergency food in two-thirds of the EU's member states. Italy, Portugal and Ireland are in deep recession and for the poorest that means hunger and cold.
In Romania - where (contrary to what the shrill Labour activist said on Question Time last week) the population is not seven but 21.5 million - the Red Cross has been distributing food to the worst off since 2009. Where have all those billions gone, the billions spent in subsidies, investment and lavish schemes? Quite a lot of it seems to have been embezzled and the rest has achieved very little real improvement.
In Italy the newly-successful political party of Beppe Grillo has emerged with an interesting list of demands. They are fed up of their entrenched political class and they want to stop paying interest on Italy's debts. If they did they would use the money to spend their way out of austerity and back into growth. They can't do that without defying the bankers who effectively run the EU. The commissioners won't let them stop paying the interest, as that would damage their credit rating and scupper the euro currency. It's all about the EU's single currency dream, at the end of the day. If Grillo's Five Star party really wants to pursue these drastic policies, it has to leave the euro currency and it has to leave the EU. If it did, it would experience a weak exchange rate and rapid inflation for a short time but it would be able to start exporting again.
What Grillo is saying sounds remarkably like what UKIP is saying, and I hope the Italians listen to him.