The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron in Athens was enshrined with some positive political remarks on the future and architecture of the European project.
Macron’s statements depict a political dynamic that has been developed within Eurozone and EU, aiming at deepening democratic accountability and transparency in decision-making, strengthening collective leadership and altering the current economic mix. Such reforms are included in the wider strategy to emphasize on sustainable growth and investments, and improve some of the major macroeconomic indicators, like unemployment, poverty and social inequality.
It takes time and committed efforts to put this process on track, but it is important that such proposals and initiatives are surfacing into the public debate.
The Syriza-led government, already since the first phase of the negotiations back in 2015, has made clear that the European system of governance needs to be reformed. To that end, it has submitted a string of proposals in the European Council and the European Parliament, most of which have been repeated and presented by the French President, but also crystallized in a more precise way -i.e. the creation of a European Monetary Fund to substitute IMF and the proposal for a Eurozone’s Finance Minister. Needless to say that Mr Macron has also admitted that the Greek crisis is profoundly a European crisis - a breakthrough in how many leaders have perceived Greece’s struggle so far.
As far as the third review of the bailout program is concerned, the French side endorses the goals of the Greek government when it comes to the fast and successful conclusion of the review by the end of 2017, the preparations for the final exit from the bailout next year and a successful debt relief package.
We need to point out that it is important to focus on concrete actions than discussing and meditating endlessly. I am insisting on that, as Europe needs a different model of governance, a proof that something is moving towards another direction.
The European citizens want a big change in the European establishment as they feel deeply disappointed by the political leaders and the way decisions are taken - i.e. behind closed doors. It has been quite a lot of years that EU leaders discuss more on technical details than on broader ideas on how to implement reforms. This rift on EU policy-making has severely damaged the trust of the citizens towards the political leaders and weakened the European project altogether.
The French President and its government have to undertake a leading role in the process of changing the core elements and goals of the European agenda. This refers not only to the empowerment of democracy and a new growth strategy, but also to the strengthening of labour rights and collective agreements in national and European scale.
* Dimitris Papadimoulis is Vice-President of the European Parliament, head of Syriza party delegation.
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