Sunday

13th Jun 2021

Future Greek governments must be bound to austerity strategy

  • 'Of course we're respecting democracy,' Barroso (r) said (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Union has insisted that no matter what political flavour of government is elected in Greece well into the future, they must all be bound to the current austerity strategy imposed by the bloc and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"For the EU and IMF to support [Greece], they need to be sure that this is for a sustainable effort, that it's not for tomorrow for a government, but for future governments," European Commission President said in Brussels on Monday (21 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"This is not a sprint; it's a marathon. It requires a sustained effort from Greece," he added, standing alongside interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

EU and IMF power brokers are demanding that all main political leaders supporting the temporary technocratic administration go beyond a coalition agreement.

They want the political chiefs of the centre-left, centre-right and far right to sign letters committing themselves not just to carrying out the austerity and structural adjustment agreed at an EU summit on 26 October related to the country's existing bail-out programme, but also any additional measures that are yet to be decided for a second rescue package.

The conservative New Democracy party backs the new government, but its leader, Antonis Samaras, has balked at signing the letter, saying he has already signed enough documents showing his commitment to the process.

Samaras is as committed to austerity as his centre-left counterparts, but wants a free hand to implement it in a way that is more in keeping with his party's ideology, with less emphasis on increasing taxes on the middle class and more on public sector cuts.

At a meeting with the EU executive chief, Papademos, who was one of two vice-presidents on the European Central Bank board when Athens signed a first bail-out memorandum in 2010, tried to convince Barroso of the need for international lenders to release the latest, €8 billion installment of the country’s first bail-out package.

At a tightly managed press conference after the meeting with Barroso and Horst Reichenbach, the head of the task force for Greece directing the government how to proceed with austerity and structural adjustment, Papademos stressed the need for the letter to be signed and explained that it was necessary to legally bind future governments.

"This letter by the leaders of the parties supporting the government has been requested by the eurogroup and the IMF and the EU and I think it is necessary to eliminate uncertainties and ambiguities concerning actions to be taken in the future by parties that may be in power," he said.

"We should all realise that our European partners are committing themselves to the financing of Greece over a long period of time and this is the reason why they are expecting a commitment not only by this government but also the political parties on their continued support over the medium and long term."

The second bail-out term is expected to last until 2020, spanning at a minimum two electoral cycles under which governments would be bound to an austerity and structural adjustment strategy.

The imposition of an unelected technocrat at the head of the Greek and Italian governments has come under widespread criticism from a range of mainstream commentators, democracy campaigners, the hard left and the eurosceptic right.

However, three separate polls taken just after Papademos assumed office showed that between 72.9 and 79.1 percent believe the establishment of an emergency technocratic government is "positive".

Barroso was sensitive to underscore that EU and IMF pressure was in keeping with democratic norms.

"[Greece] requires a real effort to national consensus and unity. We are in one of those moments where, while in full respect of democracy and different parties, we need to see a country united around some goals," he said. "Of course we're respecting democracy, and different political ideas, which are of course a part of democracy, ... [the new administration] received very, very wide support in the parliament and most political forces in the parliament support this."

"Less politics and more commitment to implementation is what we need,” he continued. "That’s what the Greek citizens want. They want less political games. They want results."

Papademos was due to meet with EU Council President Herman van Rompuy later Monday afternoon and the chairman of the group of countries that use the euro, Luxembourgish Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, on Tuesday.

ECB man to rule Greece for 15 weeks

Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, is to be sworn in as prime minister of Greece for a 15-week period in which he will pass laws on an EU bail-out package.

Greek elite cobble together fragile unity government

Greece’s two mainstream political parties have agreed on a pact for a unity government after intense pressure from the EU, which warned the country would be left to go bankrupt if a cross-party consensus was not achieved.

Greek elections pushed back to April

A general election in Greece to replace the technocratic administration of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has been pushed back to April, governing parties have agreed, although the precise date remains unclear.

News in Brief

  1. EU top court fast-tracks rule-of-law case to October
  2. Hungary's Fidesz wants to ban LGBTIQ content for under-18s
  3. MEPs join EU citizens on farm-animal cage ban
  4. Council of Europe urges Russia to release Navalny 'immediately'
  5. China's anti-sanctions law alarms EU businesses
  6. Airlines seek to water down EU passengers' rights
  7. EU leaders join call for further probe into Covid origins
  8. Liberal MEPs under fire over Babiš abstention

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU urges Poland to step back from 'legal primacy' clash
  2. Pressure builds on EU to back WTO vaccine-patent waiver
  3. EU anti-fraud agency cracked down on fake pandemic supplies
  4. MEP office expenses kept secret on dubious evidence
  5. What the EU public think of EU pesticide regulation
  6. MEPs set to take EU Commission to court on rule-of-law
  7. EU takes legal action against Germany on bonds ruling
  8. MEPs demand new EU biodiversity law by next year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us