Greece: EU parliament slams failure to reach deal

MEPs have accused Tsipras' government of being 'irresponsible', while also calling the Eurogroup 'cold hearted ideologues'.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

29 Jun 2015

EU leaders met at length throughout last week in a final effort to reach an agreement between the Greek government and its creditors, to no avail. Athens is due to repay €1.6bn to the international monetary fund (IMF) on Tuesday, and has been discussing new bailout terms with other eurozone countries.

It will now be up to Greece's citizens to decide whether or not to accept a new deal laid out by the country's creditors, with prime minister Alexis Tsipras having called a snap referendum on 5 July.

Greek banks are currently shut and will remain closed until after the vote, and capital controls imposed by the government mean that people are unable to take out more than €60 a day.


Reacting to these latest developments, parliament's European People's Party (EPP) group chair Manfred Weber said, "the Greek government should not continue telling untruths to the Greek people on what happened during the negotiations. Both the European commission and the Eurogroup made extensive offers and proposals. Europe has been doing everything it can to build bridges and is still ready to help".

He accused the Greek government having been "irresponsible during the whole negotiation process. The fact that no agreement could be found is its sole responsibility".

"All responsible politicians have made it clear that the eurozone cannot be subject to blackmail. Even a radical government must accept that there are rules, and that those should be observed. This is a signal sent to other countries also. What will be at stake at the upcoming elections is whether the countries concerned want to continue on a constructive path together with Europe, or choose egoism, radical positions and instability."

Gianni Pittella, chair of parliament's Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, warned that "the eurozone is now entering troubled waters following the rejection of the Greek bailout extension. All efforts must be done to prevent a Grexit".

The Italian MEP remained hopeful that, "the elements for a decent compromise remain on the table. The differences between the creditors' proposals and the Greek government can be bridged if everyone is ready to make an effort."

"It is not the time to further punish the Greek people. Everything must be done to keep the financial flows inside the country. Confronted with an unprecedented situation, Greek people must be offered the chance to choose their future. We are not afraid of any referendum", he added.

Meanwhile, Guy Verhfostadt, chair of parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group, warned that "a 'Grexit' is a lose-lose situation - creditors lose their money and the Greek economy will further crumble. A 'Grexit' will be seen by the world as an enormous management failure of a respected reserve currency". 

He urged Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the eurozone leaders "to come back to their senses".

"The current negotiations focused on quick wins such as tax increases and pension cuts. It was a programme that put the burden on the Greek population, but would leave the government and its bureaucracy untouched."

"The Greeks are not to blame for this mess, but their leaders are. It started with bad governance by Socialists and Conservatives, and is pursued by a Communist government that continues previous policies of clientelism and puts the bill of their failure in the hands of their citizens", he underlined.

Greens/European Free Alliance co-chairs Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts commented, "while the Greek government made major steps towards a compromise, putting forward proposals that went much further than anything proposed before, the lenders remained intransigent in their demands."

"Greece's creditors continue to demand measures which would not help the country's economic recovery. Greece instead needs a commitment for a restructuring of the debt as well as the rapid set-up of a major investment plan to counterbalance the recessionary and self-defeating austerity measures requested by the creditors".

And Gabi Zimmer, chair of parliament's Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) said, "the Eurogroup's cold hearted ideologues have once again trampled on European democracy. First they blackmailed the democratically-elected Greek government for months, now they have denied the Greek people the possibility to decide about the Eurogroup's proposal."

"It would have been no problem for the finance ministers to extend the programme for a few days to make this possible. But they did not want to give the Greek people this freedom. They prefer to see the only Left government in the EU failing and, because of this, they are putting European integration at risk. Now, EU leaders must find a last-minute solution. The EU's future lies in their hands."


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