In urgent need of a compromise on Greece

Photo from Angelos Fragkopoulos's post in Μένουμε Ευρώπη on Facebook

Citizen Correspondent

On Monday, 22 June, there was yet another Eurogroup meeting in Brussels concerning the Greek crisis. But like many previous attempts to reach an agreement, a conclusive decision was again postponed.

Meanwhile, in the Greek capital, Athens, people are anxiously waiting for an answer. The country has been divided once more, over its future in the Eurozone and the EU.

It is becoming evident that Greece should not have joined the euro the time it did. Europe’s leaders were over-confident and day-dreaming that the country, like other member states, could have the same currency as Germany.

It is becoming evident that Greece should not have joined the euro the time it did.

The Greeks were not given the facts and did not have a referendum on euro membership either. Europe’s governments made a political decision to allow Greece in the single currency. But when the continent’s economy turned for the worse, they blamed it all on Greece.

Additionally, when dealing with the Greek people, Europe committed some grave mistakes; calling them lazy or corrupt, while imposing harsh austerity on them inflamed further the situation.

Such drastic austerity policies were not implemented in other EU member states, under a bail-out program. Greece didn’t succeed in its efforts, because austerity in its case was much harsher than anywhere else in Europe, crippling the country’s internal market.

The previous Greek establishment governments surely have a huge amount of blame for the crisis. They are to be blamed for numerous corruption scandals, regarding certain European businesses operating in Greece. In addition, they promoted nepotism and did nothing to tackle crony tax evasion.

Yet, EU governments seem to stubbornly insist on an economic and political ideology, neo-liberalism, which has led the continent where it is in the first place. In their effort to crash any left-wing surge across the EU, they desperately try to bring the SYRIZA government down by rejecting any reasonable compromise.

EU governments seem to stubbornly insist on an economic and political ideology, neo-liberalism, which has led the continent where it is in the first place.

As a result, millions of people are suffering in Greece and elsewhere in Europe. Also, if SYRIZA and the Left are indeed defeated, we may see the other extreme gaining power in Europe – the Far Right.

A divergent outlook on how to deal with the crisis comes from a non-EU member, Iceland. The country was the first developed European nation to come under IMF supervision. Yet instead of saving the banks, they opted for policies that promoted social cohesion. They punished the bankers; they did not hand them tax-payers’ money.

Their actions brought them in collision with other European nations, notably Britain and the Netherlands, which were then faced with financial loses. As Icelandic banks were operating in their markets, the country’s banking crisis left them exposed to it.

A divergent outlook on how to deal with the crisis comes from a non-EU member, Iceland.

Nevertheless, the small Nordic nation is not an EU or Eurozone member, so it was easier for it to determine alone the policies needed to deal with the economic crisis. Greece does not have this luxury.

Despite Iceland’s negative impact on other countries’ economies, the European press and governments do not treat it as Greece. It seems that if you are too small like Iceland you get away with it.

On the contrary, if you are too big to fail as France or Italy you also elude such treatment. But since Greece is a manageable size economy, it is in trouble. Different rules apply to different nations, adding to the existing inequality in our continent.

Greece could default and leave the euro-zone, then rejoin when it gets its house in order. But such a move is not desired by either party, because it could lead Greece and Europe into uncharted territory, which neither is willing to tread on.

Meanwhile, ordinary citizens suffer and the country is on the brink of collapse, or social unrest. It is clear that European elites must reach some compromise, not for the sake of SYRIZA, but for the people of Greece.

 

Christos Mouzeviris

Christos Mouzeviris is originally from Greece, but found his home in “Ireland, Europe and the world.” He is a blogger and a journalist, interested in politics, culture, history, music, traveling and nature. He considers himself a European and a Citizen of the World, and would like to see our continent and the world more united, and more democratic. To this end he has created The Eblana European Democratic Movement, which focuses on debates about culture, politics, EU issues, and society.


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