Wednesday

29th Mar 2023

Tensions flare in Athens ahead of austerity vote

  • Greek police unions have threatened to arrest EU and IMF officials (Photo: mkhalili)

Anti-austerity protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs at police on Friday (10 february) in Syntagma Square outside parliament, wher MPs will on Sunday vote on new cuts.

The violence came after Greece's major trade unions launched a 48-hour general strike against the bill and some 10,000 unionists took the streets in mostly peaceful rallies.

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

The unions labelled the cuts - worth €3.2 billion - "the tombstone of Greek society."

The police trade union in a letter adressed to EU institutions and seen by Reuters even threatened to arrest European Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials in Greece for "blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty."

Meanwhile, the right-wing Laos party quit the government coalition and said it will vote against the plan. One minister from the Socialist Pasok party also resigned in protest over the cuts, along with three Laos ministers.

Laos was mostly to blame for dragging out talks on the asuterity package for several weeks in a high-stakes confrontation which could see the country fail to secure a new €130 billion EU-IMF bail-out and default on its sovereign debt.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos still has a majority in the parliament.

But one of the bail-out conditions imposed by eurozone finance ministers on Thursday in Brussels was that all the main parties - including Laos - will have to sign a pledge that to respect the latest austerity measures after elections in April.

Laos leader Georgios Karatzaferis told press in Athens: "I am very disturbed not from the sacrifices we have to make, but from the humiliation of Greece. They have stolen our dignity."

He added that Greece should remain in the euro, but not under a "German boot."

Meanwhile, fresh statistics from the Greek finance ministry shows that the government has managed to collect only one percent of the €8.6 billion in tax penalties issued over the last two years.

According to the Ekathimerini newspaper, had the government succeeded in collecting a third of the fines, the new austerity package would not have been needed.

An EU commission spokesman on Friday said the increased presence of EU and national experts which is to form part of the new bail-out deal will help the government to collect taxes.

"They will be supporting and training, but the executive task, the political responsibility remains in the hands of the Greek government," Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said.

Six days for Greece to secure bail-out

Ministers have given Greece six days to cough up another €325 million in cuts and pass the austerity bill through parliament to secure a desperately-needed bail-out.

Greek MPs back austerity deal

The Greek parliament has backed an austerity package needed to secure international aid. But street violence and political rebellions spell trouble ahead.

EU approves 2035 phaseout of polluting cars and vans

The agreement will ban the sale of carbon-emitting cars after 2035. The EU Commission will present a proposal for e-fuels after pressure from German negotiators via a delegated act, which can still be rejected by the EU Parliament.

Opinion

Dear EU, the science is clear: burning wood for energy is bad

The EU and the bioenergy industry claim trees cut for energy will regrow, eventually removing extra CO2 from the atmosphere. But regrowth is not certain, and takes time, decades or longer. In the meantime, burning wood makes climate change worse.

Opinion

EU's new critical raw materials act could be a recipe for conflict

Solar panels, wind-turbines, electric vehicle batteries and other green technologies require minerals including aluminium, cobalt and lithium — which are mined in some of the most conflict-riven nations on earth, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Kazakhstan.

Latest News

  1. EU approves 2035 phaseout of polluting cars and vans
  2. New measures to shield the EU against money laundering
  3. What does China really want? Perhaps we could try asking
  4. Dear EU, the science is clear: burning wood for energy is bad
  5. Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity
  6. Finnish elections and Hungary's Nato vote in focus This WEEK
  7. EU's new critical raw materials act could be a recipe for conflict
  8. Okay, alright, AI might be useful after all

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality
  6. Promote UkraineInvitation to the National Demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine on 25.02.2023

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us