Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

Greece passes austerity bill despite clashes

  • Syntagma square was again the scene of violence between protesters and riot police (Photo: S.J.Borne)

The Greek Parliament early Thursday (8 November) narrowly adopted an austerity package needed to unlock the next bailout tranche, despite a general strike and violent clashes with riot police.

On the eve of the vote, over 100,000 people took to the streets in the Greek capital, with Syntagma square again the scene of violent clashes with riot police.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Inside the Parliament, the mood was also fraught. At one point, finance minister Yannis Stournaras had to promise not to cut Parliament's staff wages as they threatened to leave the building and boycott the session.

The €13.5 billion worth of spending cuts and labour market reforms for the next two years are a precondition for Greece to receive the next tranche of bailout money, delayed since June.

During the debate, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras acknowledged that some of the pension and wage cuts were "unfair" and there was "no point in dressing this up as something else." But without them, Greece would face bankruptcy and "catastrophe" by mid-November, he said.

The bill was passed with 153 out of the parliament's 300 votes. Several coalition MPs abstained or voted against it. Seven of them were promptly expelled from their parties after voting no.

The thin majority will face another test on Sunday, when the amended 2013 budget has to be passed. This is also a precondition for the €31.5 billion tranche, which could be then approved by eurozone finance ministers meeting on Monday.

But in the German Parliament, which still has to approve every bailout tranche to Greece, there is scepticism that the disbursement could be made so quickly. "The troika report is not out yet, so we could not give a mandate to our finance minister to approve the bailout tranche on Monday," a parliamentary source told this website.

The troika - comprising the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - is still holding back on its report pending the votes in Greece. The three institutions also disagree on how to keep Greece within the bailout's deficit and debt projections which are worsening due to delays, recession and mass unemployment.

The IMF is pressing for its EU partners to accept losses on their Greek bonds, but the ECB is against this as it would run counter to its ban on direct help to governments. Eurozone governments, meanwhile, do not want to give more money to Greece, already subject to two bailouts.

One idea is to front-load all the bailout money available this year and in 2013, and then return to a decision in the autumn of next year, after German general elections take place.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks