Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

EU's eastern partnership needs revival

A week before a summit with EU eastern neighbours, Sweden and Poland's foreign ministers propose "a way ahead" for the relationship that is more focused on people's needs.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  3. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  4. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  6. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  7. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  8. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  9. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  11. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  12. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'

Latest News

  1. 1.3 million European citizens in call for glyphosate ban
  2. EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock
  3. David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees
  4. EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual
  5. EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans
  6. Greek opposition leader promises end to 'surreal' era
  7. Refugee case could topple Slovenia government
  8. Leak: EU states weaken post-Dieselgate testing

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  3. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  4. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  6. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Step Up Water Management Cooperation
  8. CECEMachinery Industry Calls for Joint EU Approach to Develop Digital Construction Sector
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMale Business Leaders Gather in Copenhagen to Advance Gender Equality
  10. EnelNo ETS Deal Means It Can Still Be Strengthened
  11. EU2017EEEstonia Anticipates More Digital Cooperation With Sweden
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina Launches Campaign to Protect IPR of Foreign Companies