Six months of negotiations between Greece and its creditors have achieved only one result: proving beyond any doubt that the current political structures of the Eurozone represent an existential threat to Europe and its ideal of democracy and justice.
Some things are clear to us.
- The offer extended to Greece by the European institutions and reiterated by Jean-Claude Juncker on June 29 cannot be defended. This is a recessionary package condemning Greece to a continuation of the spiral of economic depression, human misery and unsustainability of debt. The package does little more than identify further areas for austerity in order to free up sufficient resources to pay back interest on debt. There is no measure to kickstart the Greek economy, nor appreciation of the unprecedented economic and labour crisis in the country.
- The question of debt needs serious addressing. We need a European debt agreement to find a fair solution to place Greece and Europe on a sustainable path to recovery. The precedent of the London debt agreement, which cancelled 50% of Germany’s public debt in 1953 and allowed to kickstart the country’s economic miracle, is an important historical precedent.
- A Yes vote on the referendum on Sunday 5th July, followed by possible regime change instigated by financial fear, amounts to economic suicide for Greece and democratic suicide for Europe.
- The structures of governance of the Eurozone are broken. They are neither democratic, nor fair, nor capable of resulting in satisfactory and forward-looking compromise. From Greece to migration, European decision-making is proving an accumulation of historical mistakes. The incapacity and unwillingness to construct a real transnational democracy is trashing democracy at all levels and jeopardising the wellbeing of all the peoples of Europe.
- The blame-game is nonsense. Responsibility lies across the table. Previous Greek governments bear the brunt of the responsibility for having accumulated debt to fuel corruption-ridden growth in the period leading to 2008. Private creditors, primarily French and German banks, bear responsibility for reckless lending, despite having been bailed out at the expense of the Greek people. The European institutions and the IMF bear responsibility for having grossly misjudged the impact of the austerity they imposed following the bailouts of 2010 and 2012 and attempting to replicate the same failed policies now. The government of Syriza bears responsibilities too, including failing to provide convincing counter-proposals for radical reform and calling for a referendum so late into the negotiation process.
Since the collapse of the Greek military junta in 1974 Europe has represented a promise of stability and prosperity and a powerful force for the democratisation of the continent. The risk of sleepwalking towards the destruction of this heritage is real. If in the minds of a generation Europe becomes inexorably associated with technocracy, failure, and misery; if Europe becomes the problem and not the solution; if Europe becomes the place where dreams are broken, then Europe has been raped once more. And few, this time, will stand up for her.
We need deep democratic and constitutional transformation of Europe and of the Eurozone. We have little hope our timid and reckless leaders can, after so much failure, prove up to this historical challenge. At this stage it takes courage and hope to imagine a positive scenario forwards. But if such scenario is to materialise, it will only come through the shock of a clear rejection of a failed system.
The Greek myth of Europa, as pictured above in Guido Reni’s famous painting, The Rape of Europa, is central to European Alternatives.