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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

EU referendum – “What about Greece?”

01.03.2016

The Syriza Government, the Greek Greens and most other Greek progressives do not want their country to leave the EU or the Eurozone. A central objective of Syriza has been to retain Greece’s Eurozone and EU membership. Our solidarity with Greece must keep this in mind.

The Euro did not cause the Greek debt crisis. In fact the first EU country to receive economic bail-outs following the 2008 global financial crisis was Latvia, which was then outside the Eurozone.

The EU is an extremely rich economic region, with higher total GDP than either the US or China. It has the potential to redistribute wealth from rich to poor and to foster solidarity between the peoples of Europe. The people of Greece and other lower income EU Member States should be the beneficiaries of a successful, effective EU. As one of the EU’s richest countries, we want the UK to stay in the EU and work towards these goals. Even if the current UK Government doesn’t share these objectives or priorities today, that’s no reason to argue for the UK to leave.

Greens wholeheartedly oppose the austerity foisted upon Greece, which has been inhumane and counterproductive. But the underlying force at work is the relationship between creditors and debtor, and Greece’s creditors – which includes the UK Government and other national governments, not just EU-level institutions – have been too eager to extract maximum short-term economic return regardless of human cost and longer-term impacts.

As with other indebted countries, writing off unpayable debts and investing in essential services and infrastructure can offer the best solutions in terms of rebuilding an economy and providing the most humanitarian outcome. Green MEPs have argued that Greece needs a major investment plan to counter the recessionary and self-defeating austerity measures demanded by the creditors (see www.greens-efa.eu/eurogroupgreece-14258.html).

A stable Greece on the way to genuine recovery is in the interests of Europe, both economically and politically.

Social protection and solidarity are central principles of the EU. They form part of a vision of the EU as Social Europe, a peoples’ Europe. Green MEPs have argued that the EU has an important role and duty in combating austerity and EU rules governing the single currency should fit with these objectives. In accordance with its core principles, the EU has the potential to help deliver a just outcome for Greece, which must look beyond the narrow, short-term interests of her creditors.

This article can be found in the report, Why-Greens-Say-Yes-To-Europe, recently published by UK Green MEPs.

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