Wednesday

24th Apr 2019

Opinion

Greece's future is in the eurozone

  • 'Prime Minister Samaras and his broad coalition - in office for under ten weeks - clearly have a colossal task to complete' (Photo: CameliaTWU)

Dubium sapientiae initium - Doubt is the origin of wisdom - could have been René Descarte's rather poetic interpretation of the European Union's founding moment. The doubts as to how the nations in Europe could coexist after the Second World War gave way to the greatest union of citizens, countries and markets we know today.

Yet the doubts regularly voiced about Greece's future within this union are not poetic, they are harmful and dangerous.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

German Chancellor Merkel may well repeat that she wishes for Greece to remain in the eurozone; but so long as her coalition colleagues jump on every opportunity to reaffirm the probability and feasibility of Greece exiting the eurozone, Greek Prime Minister Samaras is right to point out that such comments will not go unnoticed by foreign investors - one of the income sources Greece so badly needs right now.

Therefore, the incessant talk of a Greek exit must stop and it must stop right now. Enough time has been wasted with loud words - what matters most now is targeted action, especially so close to the publication of the next Troika report which will undoubtedly bear important consequences for the country's people and economy.

Prime Minister Samaras and his broad coalition - in office for under ten weeks - clearly have a colossal task to complete. What the past few years since the beginning of the crisis have shown beyond doubt is that austerity measures alone are not going to end Greece's problems. By capping public spending - in particular on areas vital to the country's future like education, medical facilities and social institutions - the state prevents itself from taxable incomes, job creation and long-term functioning infrastructure.

What Greece really needs, and what the trio Samaras/Venizelos/Kouvelis are seemingly trying to do is to implement sustainable structural reforms of the mechanisms of public expenditure, tax collection and distribution. The country must rethink and restructure the foundations, functioning and mechanisms of the state to make it more efficient and adapted to economic reality - simply cutting costs regardless of the consequences for the people has already led to social injustice and misery, to near suffocation of internal demand and growth and will continue to do so.

The road ahead will not be easy and it cannot be completed overnight. Yet Samaras' coalition is proving its commitment to sober economic governance by having already broken with a number of traditions. Tackling public official's oversized benefits and committing to a serious reduction of public staff - and publicly admitting the utter failure abiding by the bailout terms in this area in the past - as well as scrapping the highly symbolic press conference at the Thessaloniki Fair and substantially lowering the government's pay are small steps, but they all point in the same direction.

Of course, tax evasion and corruption remain problematic in Greece but with one in two youths unemployed, a 40% increase of the national suicide rate and a population wondering how to pay for staggering costs of healthcare and food, it is high time to restructure harmful austerity measures to find a new balance and social justice.

Even with the most basic economic knowledge, it is obvious that what Greece requires to get back on its feet is economic growth. Privatisations and increased efficiency as well as serious cutting of red tape will facilitate investments and projects resulting in job creation and therefore increase the number of taxable incomes, simultaneously providing opportunities for the jobless in Greece. These measures will need the support of Greece's partners, the Troika as well as the EU member states.

It is now our task as Greece's European partners - and I explicitly include all national and European politicians - to not spoil serious efforts by continued talk of a eurozone exit or even a complete eurozone collapse.

For the EU to prove its commitment and unreserved, economically sound support, the European Central Bank (ECB) must be given the space and independence to execute its mandate - a national parliament veto as suggested by certain voices would result in further paralysis due to decisions motivated by national political agendas as opposed to reasoned economic action which could finally lead to more stability.

Stability for Greece will consequentially result in stability for the eurozone, to the benefits of all in the union, without doubt.

The writer is President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

Analysis

Germany's competing visions of Europe

No doubt fed up of being cast as the eurozone's pantomime villainess once again, this time Angela Merkel got her rebuttal in first.

Samaras visit marks 'new relations' with Germany

Greek leader Antonis Samaras has said talks on Friday with Angela Merkel marked the start of new relations between Athens and Berlin but the German chancellor remained characteristically cautious.

Samaras in Berlin visit amid reports of 'Grexit' working group

Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras has called on EU politicians to stop demotivating speculation about his country's exit from the eurozone but his plea comes as it emerged that German officials have set up a 'Grexit' working group.

Hollande and Merkel in show of unity on Greece

The German and French leaders put on a careful display of unity on Greece on Thursday in Berlin, appearing briefly before press to urge Athens to continue reforms.

'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem

The time for genuine lobby regulation and a stop to the risk of corporate capture of EU policy-making is now. It is a question of survival and must be a priority for the next head of the European Commission.

News in Brief

  1. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions
  2. Romania adopts new rules weakening corruption fight
  3. Sturgeon pledges 2nd Scottish independence referendum
  4. Political deadlock looms at Sunday's Spanish election
  5. Le Pen in Copenhagen for talks with new key ally
  6. Trump to meet May and Macron on Europe visit in June
  7. Johnson's sister to run in EU elections on new list
  8. Weber pledges to 'block' Nord Stream 2 as president

Press freedom and the EU elections

We are campaigning for the next European Commission to appoint a commissioner with a clear mandate to take on the challenge of the protection of freedom, independence and diversity of journalism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  2. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  3. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  4. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections
  5. Ukraine comic-president invited to EU capitals
  6. Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve
  7. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  8. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us