In the midst of political and economic uncertainty in Eurozone and the Southeastern Mediterranean basin -as tension between EU member-states and Turkey unfolds- the Greek government is making important steps to implement a series of reforms, reduce unemployment, drag the country outside the labyrinth of tough fiscal consolidation programs and foster sustainable growth.
Since July 2015 much have been done, and more could be done. The Greek government and the negotiation team attempts to address all challenges and play an important role on the future of Europe, standing against the notion of the “à la carte” Union. Europe moves fast when it comes to preserve certain financial interests, but it becomes slow on pushing for fiscal harmonization, banking union, fighting against unemployment or tax evasion. This is the policy the German government is implementing and forcing all member-states to implement, thus facilitating the rise of far-right forces that want the dissolution of Europe.
During the last seven years, the Greek citizens have assumed excessive burdens, facing the financial and refugee crisis, embracing hundreds of thousands of refugees that have crossed the Aegean Sea, against the hatred speech of far-right parties and leaders in the EU. No other European society was found in a similar position since the end of World War Two achieving to make it through - and this is something Greeks should be granted for. The Syriza government has, in the meantime, implemented a social agenda, despite serious economic constraints, trying to shield the most vulnerable parts of the society that have long suffered from the consequences of austerity.
Nonetheless, the Greek government should emphasize more on areas that are not inextricably correlated with the negotiations of the bailout programme. Similarly goes for the preparation of a specific policy plan to tackle brain-drain and take advantage of the skilled youth that suffers from the vicious circle of unemployment.
In European scale, progressive forces from the Left, the Socialists and the Greens should foster alliances and challenge the neoliberal agenda, asking for more democratic accountability, a stronger social state and the decrease of inequality. Such alliance will affect and be affected by the electoral results in France and Germany, and there is therefore the need for strategic choices regarding the next steps.
In this puzzling context, the conclusion of the second review of the Greek bailout is an utmost priority, based on what has been agreed on last February’s Eurogroup, so that Greek bonds can be included in ECB’s quantitative easing program. On issues where distance has been observed between the Greek government and the creditors, mainly due to creditors’ short-signed ideological approach, as for instance in the reinstitution of collective agreements in the labour market, a political decision is needed, in compliance with the European acquis.
The conclusion of Greece’s bailout review is necessary for both Greece and the EU. An inclusive agreement that will focus on the post-2018 plan, the fiscal targets, the debt relief, and the primary surpluses, should be agreed so that the domestic market and the investors can have a “clear path” against negative rumours and speculation.
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