January 9, 2014
Yesterday the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Antonis Samaras inaugurated the beginning of the Greek Presidency in the Council of the European Union, the rotating Presidency that every member-state assumes each semester. All statements stemming from the Greek PM were ending with the same phrase: “Greece will exit the crisis in 2014. We do have hopes that in the second semester Greece will achieve to seek financing from the markets”. How far is this expectation from reality?
The problem here is that Greece cannot even achieve the minimum concensus on the fundamental aspects of its consolidation program. Macroeconomic data and the output from the domestic market are showing deep flunctuations in demand, as well as a strong decline between job offers and unemployment rate. In November 2013, consumption rate increased by 1,4% comparing to September and October, but in December -which is considered to be the most productive month of the year- it fell again. In this respect, unemployment rate between August and October slightly fell by 0,2%, to increase again during November and December, and reach the highest ever in Eurozone (i.e. 27,4% followed by Spain with 26,7%, according to Eurostat). Furthermore, domestic polls in bi-monthly basis show a similar increase in negative public feelings regarding the exit from the tunnel of downturn.
Therefore, both the European Union leaders and the Greek leadership are “obliged” to present a completely fictional situation concerning the steps that the Greek economy has made so far in order to bring some signs of progress. And, hop, here comes an additional concern: Is Greece the bad student or is the Europe Union the bad teacher?
After 4 years following-up the Greek crisis and how both the Greek government and its lenders are behaving and managing this unprecented economic downturn, it is inevitable to come to the following two conclusions:
1. Both the Greek government and the European Union have decided to follow the most disastreous recipy, probably in shortage of any “viable” alternative. Many criticize the wrongdoings of the Greek government, but there are only few that propose any alternative path. Many criticize the European Union and Germany, but there are only few that propose any alternative path. At the end of the day, this major leadership and policy gap poses a growing threat for the European establishment overall. And those who make parallel insinuations between 1914 and the World War One and 2014 and the European Elections, start to acquire a sort of “credibility”.
2. There is no dialogue between the European Union leaders and the European society. Not even some efforts to bring the debate over the current economic deadlock in Greece (and in Eurozone) in the public sphere, and welcome ideas that are anot necessarily stemming from scholars and opinion-makers. The European Union and its member-states have completely alienated the citizens from the discussion, the deliberation and, finally from the involvement in policy-making
It is to my strongest belief that what Greece and the European Union essentially need is a new social contract. New foundations, new institutions, but above all a constitutional reform that will be based on direct democracy. Nothing less.
Author : Dimitris Rapidis