Thursday

11th Aug 2022

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.

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

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.

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

With the prolonged lack of rain and high temperatures, fears have emerged over water shortages and droughts decreasing crop yields — prompting calls to use less water and reuse urban wastewater for agricultural irrigation.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us