European Parliament Members Take Sides on Greek Crisis Debate



Top (from left): Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Alexis Tsipras, Manfred Weber. Middle: Gianni Pittella, Ryszard Legutko, Guy Verhofstadt, Gabriele Zimmer . Bottom: Rebecca Harms, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Eleftherios Synadinos
Top (from left): Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Alexis Tsipras, Manfred Weber. Middle: Gianni Pittella, Ryszard Legutko, Guy Verhofstadt, Gabriele Zimmer . Bottom: Rebecca Harms, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Eleftherios Synadinos

Greece and the best way to resolve the ongoing Greek crisis were hotly debated in plenary on 8 July in the presence of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. While some MEPs criticised him for his lack of concrete proposals, others praised him while some urged him to take his country out of the eurozone. The debate also took into account the conclusions of the recent European Council on 25-26 June and the euro summit on 7 July.

Council President Donald Tusk said about Greece: “There is now a race against time to rebuild trust. I will not discuss the rights or the wrongs of the Greek referendum. Everyone has their own perceptions. It is necessary at this stage to move on. Let bygones be bygones.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said: “In the light of the Greek crisis the answer cannot be to turn away from the need to take the economic and monetary union further.”

The Greek crisis is a manifestation of the eurozone’s inability to find a long lasting solution, said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He pointed out that EU financial help never got to the Greek people but instead went to save the banks. This was the reason why austerity programmes had no social acceptance in Greece:  “The simple fact is that we have to face and accept that the majority of the Greek people feels that they have no other choice other than to demand that they be given a way out of this impasse and this dead end,” he said. Tspiras said Greece had been turned into an “austerity laboratory” but “the experiment was not a success: poverty has soared, and so has public debt.”

Manfred Weber (EPP, Germany) criticised Tsipras’ lack of proposals as a basis for negotiations: “You engage in provocation, we engage in compromise. You are looking at failure, we are looking for success. You don’t like Europe, we love Europe.” He added: “You are talking about dignity, but you are consistently not telling your people the truth and this is not dignified”. Weber pointed out that there are five countries in the EU with lower standards of living than Greece, and asked: “How can you tell those people Greece cannot stand more cuts”.

Gianni Pittella (S&D, Italy) told Tsipras. “I think the conditions are there for an agreement to be reached this week and it is now up to the government to decide on reforms to support employment, combating corruption, tax evasion, all of these measures that are required, not because Europe would impose them,  but because they would benefit Greek citizens. And I think it is also right to discuss restructuring debt.”

Ryszard Legutko (ECR, Poland) said: “Something is rotten in Greece but something is rotten in the EU too.” He added that if the current “theatre”  continues we will be confused on what to focus:  “Who and what we are trying to save, is it the currency union, is it Greek society, the credibility of the government, the creditors, the reputation of Angela Merkel or the infallibility of the ever closer union?”

Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) stressed the need for a clear aned concrete roadmap:  “For five years we have been sleepwalking toward a Grexit with the help and with the support of the people of the extreme right. And these last months we have been running toward a Grexit.”  He added: “And it is not you and it is not we, who are going to pay the bill. It’s the ordinary Greek citizens who will pay the bill of a Grexit.” He also called on Tsipras to end existing privileges in his country.

Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, Germany) said: “Let’s find solutions which are sustainable and will last and not just give us short-term gratification so we can stand up and ask other people to do stuff. Let’s respect people and Europe and let’s respect the decision  taken on Sunday.”

Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, Germany) told Tsipras that she was expecting concrete ideas for reforms and a better future and not only an speech advocating to put an end to corruption and other problems. She reminded him that “everything has to be decided this week” and added that “democracy and Putin do not match”.

Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK) criticised the introduction of the euro: ”If you try and force together different people or different  economies without first seeking the consent of those people, it is unlikely to work and the plan has failed. This is not just Greece we are talking about today, the whole of the Mediterranean now finds itself in the wrong currency.”

Marine Le Pen (ENF, France) told Tsipras: “The euro and austerity are Siamese twins. Your people will not escape from austerity without leaving the euro.”

Eleftherios  Synadinos, a non-attached member from Greece, invoked the millions of dead people as the result of the German occupation of Greece in World War 2 as well as the debt owed to Greece from that period. “Why are you refusing to include this in the question of debt?” he asked, saying that Greek people can also exist and survive outside the eurozone.

Concluding remarks

In his concluding remarks Tsipras  said: “We saw today a fruitful debate with contrasting views, highly political but not in the form of state against state. The European Parliament has to play a more active role.”  The Greek Prime Minister said that contrary to some MEPs’ accusations, Greece had indeed come up with proposals for reforms and  clamped down hard on tax evasion. “Proposals include a strong commitment to achieve fiscal objectives. However, we have a sovereign right to decide to increase taxation on profit-making businesses and not on pensions,” he said. Tsipras pointed out that Germany was on the receiving side of the greatest possible solidarity in 1953 when 60% of its debt was written off. Citing his respect for European laws, he concluded by quoting Sophocles: “There are times when the greatest law of all human laws is justice for human beings.”

Juncker said “It was a mistake to leave the negotiation table. If we hadn’t broken off, we would have come to an agreement.” The Commission President added: “I always stood up against cuts in pension levels that would have affected the poorest. We have to describe things as they really took place behind these closes doors.”
Tusk stressed that time was running out: “Today we need unity, not because unity is a beautiful idea, but because it is indispensable in order to take concrete decisions. Without unity on Greece we wake up in four days in a different Europe. This is really and truly the final wake-up call for Greece but also for us. Our last chance.”


8 COMMENTS

  1. Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK), Marine Le Pen (ENF, France) and Eleftherios Synadinos are agreed by me. The EU has 28 members, the Eurozone has 19 members.

    Now Greek currency is overvalued, because using euro she could not adapt her currency. Greece to have own currency is nothing with “love Europe” or “hate
    Europe”. From 4000 years ago to now, one country has own currency that is
    a natural situation.

  2. The opinion of Greek PM Tsipras is far from the current focus. Now Greece just needs to make a better (than last “ultimatum”) agreement from the EU. Does PM Tsipras know how to borrow money from a bank? Saying “write off” will conduct the condition and interest to be harsher.

    The last “ultimatum” is too harsh, the company tax is too high, 1% government surplus (except debt repayment) in 2015 (half year), 2% in 2016, 3% in 2017 are too high. PM Tsipras should emphasize this. New Greek proposal must base on the last “ultimatum”, and only a small part could be modified.

    After that Greece should have a precise plan (at least half year preparation) for unfolding own currency. It is the only solution.

  3. It baffles that the discussion is not focused on splitting into northern and southern European currencies.

  4. “We saw today a fruitful debate with contrasting views, highly political but not in the form of state against state”

    Syriza delusions continue. That is exactly what is going on. State versus state.

    Had other EU nations, including leftist governments, lived in Syriza’s post nationalist Marxist fantasyland even though the current situation is Greece’s fault they wouldn’t have hesitated even for a second to support Syriza’s positions against further austarity and debt relief. Americans transfer billions annually over and over again through the federal budget to poorer US states and they are further into capitalist camp then Europe.

    That Syriza is alone in negotiations is a testimonial to the nationalism going on in Europe (to the point of racism in some circles). They just have learned to mask it with word play. This is exactly why some EU nations fund “NGOs” that support illegal immigration in border regions like Greece, Italy and Spain… then hypocritically refuse to take those same illegals into their countries. (Here’s looking at you David Cameron of Former French Possession of Britain).

  5. It has been reported 16 members of the 18 members want Greece out of the euro. Greece has little sympathy, except from a small fringe group of radicals. Greece should not be in the euro, nor should the EU taxpayer pay anymore to Greece to support it. The Greek vote was “no”. That also means “no” more money for Greece.

  6. Banks ARE the Greek taxpayer! If they were allowed to collapse all your savings would be gone. Greeks would have no money foreign banks would want debts paid. The government guarantees savings. How did they do that? By loaning money from Europe. Had the government not been irresponsible with their loans they wouldn’t have needed to borrow this much.

  7. While many here provide comments of some support for the Greek people, it seems your hatred for Greeks is getting louder with every comment. Maybe you should go back to FYROM where your distorted, racist views will find some solace…
    As we around the world support the Greek people and hope that their politicians provide, through their efforts, some middle-ground through this time of utter distress. Greek people we stand by you!!!

  8. That’s a thought! The Mediterranean countries were never in the same economic league of their northern neighbours…