Sunday

26th Mar 2017

Tspiras hopes 'Club Med' to soften EU austerity

  • Tsipras (c) is hosting France's Hollande (r) to discuss alternatives to austerity policies avocated by Germany's Merkel (l) (Photo: Consillium)

Leaders of France, Italy, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus are gathering in Athens on Friday (9 September) for an “EU-Med” mini-summit, which Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras hopes will promote a left-wing answer to Europe’s multiple crises at next week’s Bratislava summit.

Tsipras said he hoped the meeting would help give weight to Europe's southern states, which were worst hit by Europe's many problems.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

”We [the Mediterranean countries] are in the eye of the storm of the refugee crisis, the security crisis and terrorism, and the economic crisis. Today we have a north which accumulates surpluses and a south that suffers heavy deficits. There is no European convergence when such disparities exist,” Tspiras told Le Monde in an interview published on Thursday.

The Bratislava meeting is supposed to be a show of unity after the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

But Tspiras hopes that the southern gathering will help to prevent that discussions on the EU's future are monopolised by the Visegrad group of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, who have said their proposal will be to roll back some of the EU’s powers, notably in the field of migration.

The Greek PM also wants to form a counterweight to Germany, and its belt-tightening agenda for the EU.

He said that the EU’s stability and growth pact was ”not the Gospel”, did not work in practice, and should be reviewed so that EU countries can create growth.

Senior German lawmakers already warned against a stronger role for what they call the ”Club Med” in the EU.

"I am deeply concerned that the southern EU countries will jointly form a strong coalition of reform-unwilling redistributors, threatening the financial stability in Europe,” German conservative MEP Markus Ferber told Die Welt.

The MEP said a strong and stable union was more essential than ever following the Brexit vote.

"After Britain's departure, the 'Club Med' will have a blocking minority that can prevent all kinds of laws in Brussels that it does not like," Ferber said.

Germany's EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger was also worried about the Athens meeting.

"It would not be good if the divide deepened between EU member countries with big budget problems ... and those with minimal fiscal issues," he told the Passauer Neue Presse.

Part of Tsipras’ anti-austerity push will be to gather support for his country’s debt relief demands.

Also on Friday, eurozone ministers will examine Greece’s economic situation. Creditors, including the International Monetary Fund, say Greece will never manage to pay back its €328 billion, but Berlin has refused to open debt relief discussions before the German elections in 2017.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Greek bailout talks to 'intensify'

Greece and its creditors will meet in Brussels later this week to unblock negotiations needed for a new tranche of financial aid, amid concerns over the country's economic situation.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change