Open letter to F. Hollande and A. Merkel “Il faut lever le blocus économique de la Grèce”, Libération

By Guillaume Balas (France, MEP, Socialist Party, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament), Fabio De Masi (Germany, MEP, Die Linke, European United Left – Nordic Green Left), Emmanuel Maurel (France, MEP, Socialist Party, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament), Dimitrios Papadimoulis (Greece, MEP, Syriza, European United Left – Nordic Green Left), Ernest Urtasun (Spain, MEP, Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, Greens/European Free Alliance)

“Mrs Merkel of the Federal Republic,

Mr. President of the Republic,

A memorandum was signed with Greece in July 2015, against the initial will of its people and against statements by high EU officials such as that of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is that “democratic choices cannot go against the treaties.”

The current Greek government strived to efficiently and quickly implement the controversial program, trying to minimize the dramatic social effects upon the middle and low income part of the Greek society. A series of unprecedented and often harsh measures have been taken, such as the administrative and pension reform, changes in VAT rates, and privatisations. Last Sunday, the government has even got its parliamentary majority to vote a system of automatic cuts in public spending if the budget deviates from the fiscal goals. A reform that would never been asked to be implemented in France or Germany.

When one part executes its provisions of the contract, it legitimately expects that the other party does the same. Yet, States of the euro area, during the meetings of the Eurogroup, continuously spin out any concrete development by presenting the specious pretext of the “review of reforms”. In short, too many players on this issue want to play for time.

The result is that Greece has been caught between exaggerated and unrealistic budget surplus targets and deflation fueled by austerity. With this uncertainty and a lack of public and private investment it is impossible to achieve the agreed objectives and reap the potentials of the Greek economy. Political uncertainty, economic stagnation and overdue debt restructuring ruins Greece’s repayment capability. Greece is caught between certain creditors, who would like to test the financial, social, and political limits of the country and intimidate the governments of countries such as France and Italy. Finally, because of its geographical location, Greece found itself under additional immense pressure, by neighbours who prevented the free movement of persons without any remorse, erecting physical barriers, which left, and continue to leave refugees in limbo in Greece.

Today, as at the outset of last summer, uncertainties accumulate for both Greeks and investors, awaiting the completion of the first review of the Greek Programme. The current situation is an economic blockade against Greece and the Greek people, where capital controls are still in effect.

Hence, you, Chancellor, Mr. President, have the power to put an end to these uncertainties. Lift the economic blockade of Greece!

It must be emphasized, finally, in the light of recent evidence, that only 5% of the money lent to Greece have been used for the Greek budget. The remaining 95% were used to recapitalize banks in which the European Central Bank could have spared the panic and the melting of liquidity; and to pay back the creditors themselves, as demonstrated most recently by the European School of Management and Technology from Germany.So it would be politically blind, and economically irresponsible to abuse longer assumed « rights » that creditors cannot avail of those loans.

The European Union owes itself a lot of money to Greece: all the Structural Funds made unavailable for Greece between 2009 and 2014 on the ground of lack of co-financing, exacerbating precisely the lack of funding for Greek projects, or the profits earned by the ECB on the detention of Greek debt, as well as the exclusion of Greece from provision of liquidity by ECB, for arbitrary reasons (the signing of a memorandum), just to name few.

Chancellor, Mr. President, every passing month, leaving the unemployment weighing on 5 out of 10 young people, and one quarter of Greeks ; each passing week, leaving refugees blocked in a land in crisis ; each day of misery for 35% of Greeks affected by poverty, is in fact an additional mortgage on the future of this country, which inevitably increases the risk of making a failed state in the heart of Europe and challenges the social coherence in Europe as well as it gives strength to the Eurosceptic Far-right Ideas.

Believing that such a scenario is not part of your plans, we ask you to take the initiative by concrete actions to restore confidence and the sustainability of the Greek debt and enforcing a sound economy, which is in a deep process of reform.