Greek crisis: Parliament welcomes breakthrough in negotiations amid heavy backlash

MEPs are pleased that an agreement has been reached for further Greek bailout funding but call for reform of the EU political structure.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

13 Jul 2015

Eurozone leaders and Greece were finally able to reach an agreement laying out the conditions for a further bailout package for Athens after 17 hours of talks, narrowly avoiding a 'Grexit'. Nevertheless, this does not signal the end of the Greek crisis, as national EU parliaments must now approve the proposed measures.

The new deal requires Greece to pass laws by Wednesday to reform its VAT and pensions systems. Athens must also sell off state assets worth €50bn, which will go to a trust fund managed by the country's creditors. 

These conditions will no doubt come as a blow to Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, as they had previously been rejected in a referendum. The international monetary fund will also provide additional support to Athens as of March 2016, despite Tsipras requesting that it not participate in future bailout packages.


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European People's Party (EPP) group chair Manfred Weber said this was "good news for Europe as a whole", but stressed that, "the European principles remain unchanged. Rules must be followed. The fact that conditionality is extensively maintained is an essential point for the EPP group."

"Tsipras and his government have destroyed a lot of trust among Greece's partners over the past months. To win back that trust, he will have to show a clear willingness to pursue deep and ambitious structural reforms."

"Today's agreement is not the conclusion, it is just the beginning of a long path ahead of us", stressed the German deputy.

Gianni Pittella, chair of parliament's Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, acknowledged that the deal had, "required important efforts and difficult choices from both sides." 

"To make this agreement a new beginning for Greece and the Greek people, it is essential to implement measures conducive to investment and growth foreseen by the agreement as soon as possible."

He was also pleased that, "[German finance minister] Wolfgang Schäuble's irresponsible and dangerous intention to kick Greece out of the eurozone has been rejected."

"Nevertheless", he added, "we firmly believe that the Greek crisis must be a lesson from which we all have to learn. Europe, as it is now structured, must be changed. 

"As long as national egoism will have the weapon of veto power over the common interest, the EU will be ineffective and incapable of facing future challenges."

"This intergovernmental Europe must come to an end, giving way to a community method, in order to make a more integrated and stronger EU".

Syed Kamall, chair of parliament's European Conservatives and Reformists group was extremely critical of the new agreement, saying, "if you listen carefully you can hear the sound of that can being kicked a little further down the road."

"The Greek parliament must now vote on a package that was far tougher than the one rejected by the Greek people a week ago. The Greek people will be scratching their heads this morning asking why they bothered with the antics of the last few weeks."

"At the core of the crisis is a complete lack of honesty from many European leaders. Tsipras has been telling his people that they can end austerity while staying in the euro." 

"[German chancellor] Angela Merkel will not tell her taxpayers that in a currency union with such disparate economies, they are going to have to pay, not just bailouts, but fiscal transfers."

Chair of parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group Guy Verhofstadt stressed that, "a 'Grexit' would have been a disaster for the Greek people and for the future of the EU."

"However, the way this deal was reached is not the way the EU should work. We cannot continue to allow the eurozone to be held hostage by extremes on the left and on the right. Unanimity paralyses our union and pits countries against each other."

"We have to learn from this Greek thriller. A currency union without a political union is not sustainable", he said.

Greens/European Free Alliance group co-chairs Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts commented, "the Greek government extended a hand and under the pressure of the harshest finance ministers, led by Germany's Wolfgang Schäuble, the eurogroup tries to twist their arms."

"By imposing utterly unrealistic delays for adopting fundamental reforms and subjecting Greek democracy to external control, the eurogroup is demonstrating disrespect for the citizens of a country."

"One can only conclude that the will of the eurogroup is either to humiliate the Greek government or encourage it to pull the plug, so that it bears prima facie responsibility for 'Grexit'", they added.

The deal has already come under heavy fire, with the hashtag '#ThisIsACoup' trending on Twitter.

 

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