30th Sep 2023

Greek MPs back austerity deal

  • At least 80 people were injured in the anti-austerity protests (Photo: mkhalili)

The Greek parliament late Sunday night (12 February) voted in favour of the austerity package required by eurozone countries in return for a bail-out needed to avoid bankruptcy, but the vote was marked by violent street clashes.

"Of 278 deputies present, 199 voted for, and 74 against," Parliament speaker Philippos Petsalnikos said, with the vote coming after nine hours of heated debate.

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

Over 40 rebels from the coalition parties who voted against the bill were immediately ousted from their posts. This followed the five ministers who resigned on Friday in protest over the austerity measures which include 15,000 public-sector job cuts, a lowering of the minimum wage by 20 percent to €600 a month, pension cuts, privatisations and the liberalisation of labour laws.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the austerity package would "set the foundations for the reform and recovery of the economy", whereas his finance minister pointed out that the question was not about stomaching some cuts, but "whether we will be able to pay even these reduced wages and pensions."

Greece needs the €130bn bail-out by 20 March, when it has to repay €14.5bn worth of bonds or face bankruptcy. Eurozone ministers have set three conditions for the bailout, all of which have to be fulfilled by Wednesday. The austerity plan must be passed through parliament, written pledges must be signed by all political parties ensuring they will stick to the programme after the general elections due in April, and further savings of €325 million have to be made.

But the sense of injustice over more austerity measures hitting the worst off spilled over in several Greek cities, including Thessaloniki where some 20,000 people took to the streets, as well as the islands of Corfu and Crete.

Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police before the parliament in Syntagma Square, with buildings set ablaze and over 80 people injured.

Trade unionists, nationalists, communists, students, retired people were among those denouncing the "EU-IMF blackmail", many of them equipped with gas masks to resist the tear gas used by riot police. German flags were also burnt in protest as what is seen as a Berlin-prescribed austerity package for Greece.

Support for their cause came also from the US multi-billionaire George Soros who criticised Germany's austerity drive. "I admire Chancellor Angela Merkel for her strong leadership," he told Der Spiegel, "but unfortunately she is leading Europe in the wrong direction."

Instead of austerity, embattled eurozone countries need to be helped with financial stimuli, he said. "Otherwise we are repeating the mistakes that lead America in 1929 straight into the Great Depression. Angela Merkel simply doesn't understand this," the financier said.

Meanwhile, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble continued to apply political pressure by raising the possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone.

"That is all in the hands of the Greeks themselves," he told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "But even in the event (of an exit from the eurozone), which almost no one assumes, they will still remain part of Europe."

Eurozone ministers postpone Greek deal

Eurozone countries have again postponed the new Greek bail-out despite the country's looming bankruptcy, pending more spending cuts by Athens and written pledges from Greek politicians.

IEA says: Go green now, save €11 trillion later

The International Energy Agency finds that the clean energy investment needed to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius warming saves $12 trillion [€11.3 trillion] in fuel expenditure — and creates double the amount of jobs lost in fossil fuel-related industries.


How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?

The EU Commission's new magic formula for avoiding scrutiny is simple. You declare the documents in question to be "short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views" and thus exempt them from being logged in the official inventory.

Latest News

  1. EU women promised new dawn under anti-violence pact
  2. Three steps EU can take to halt Azerbaijan's mafia-style bullying
  3. Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war
  4. Added-value for Russia diamond ban, as G7 and EU prepare sanctions
  5. EU states to agree on asylum crisis bill, say EU officials
  6. Poland's culture of fear after three years of abortion 'ban'
  7. Time for a reset: EU regional funding needs overhauling
  8. Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  2. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations
  2. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  3. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  4. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us