The Greek people have clearly chosen to stop the austerity imposed on them by the Troika’s diktats and ask the new government to bring in fair policies with more social justice. The renegotiation of the Greek debt, and in particular the extension of the terms of its bailout, should no longer be considered a taboo. It is now time to invest in economic growth to reduce deficit and public debt. The S&D Group has always fought for this approach in the European Parliament. The will of the Greek people should be respected by all the EU institutions and member states alike.
"Should the exit polls be confirmed, the outcome of this election paves the way for a large progressive coalition. Hence, we encourage Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, which has won most votes in the election, to start negotiations with all pro-European progressive forces to form a strong and workable government. The S&D Group is ready to fully co-operate with the new progressive government, which is expected to seriously fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and corruption.
All three main parties, tragically, seem to agree that deep spending cuts must continue to be made until the structural budget deficit is wiped out in 2019-20, even though wages have already fallen 8% in real terms, business investment is still below pre-crash levels, unemployment is still 2million, the trade deficit in manufactured goods at over £100bn is now the largest in modern history, and household debt is now over £2trillion and still rising.
The Tories want to continue with these cuts because it gives them political cover to achieve their real objective which is to shrink the State and squeeze the public sector back to where it was in the 1930s.
It isn’t even as though the deficit is being reduced by these savage cuts. Because the reduction in the government’s tax revenues as a result of shrinking incomes exceed the spending cuts, the deficit (which is still nearly £100bn) is likely to rise, not fall, in 2014-15 and in future years.
There is an alternative way out of endless austerity. We need public investment to kickstart the economy out of faltering growth and to generate real job creation and rising incomes.
It can readily be funded. With interest rates at 0.5%, a £30bn investment package can be financed for just £150m a year, enough to create more than a million real jobs within 2-3 years. And even without any increase in public borrowing at all, the same sum could equally be funded either through the two banks which are already in public ownership, or through printing money (quantitative easing) to be used directly for industrial investment rather than for bond-buying by the banks as hitherto, or through taxing the ultra-rich by a special levy.
The essence of rail reform must be to reverse fragmentation, to reintegrate the system under public ownership, and to run it in the public interest. At present Britain has the highest fares in Europe. The additional costs of privatisation to public funds are estimated at more than £11bn, or around £1.2bn a year, so that the costs to the taxpayer are now three times as much as under British Rail.
Since 2010 rail fares have increased 25%, yet at the same time more than £200m a year has been paid out in dividends to shareholders or overseas state-owned rail companies which now hold two-thirds of the current rail franchises. Over 80% of the public want the railways re-nationalised, which must include a significant proportion of Tories.
The most obvious and simplest way to achieve this is by letting the rail franchises expire and then taking them back into public ownership at no cost whatever to the taxpayer. To subject them to a public bidding competition with private bidders is not only wholly unnecessary but sends out the wrong signals, as though we’re not confident of our own ideology. The Tories certainly didn’t offer a competitive option when they forced through privatisation!
Anyway, the franchise process, so far from being economic, encourages the gaming of wildly optimistic passenger number projections and this, combined with huge legal contract complexity which is bureaucratic and wasteful both in time and money (except for the lawyers and accountants), has led in the past to franchise failures and operating chaos, most notably on the East and West Coast lines. From past experience public ownership has consistently worked better, and we should not gratuitously throw obstacles in our own path in getting there.
When the Thatcher government came to office in 1979, 82% of workers in the UK had their main terms and conditions determined by a union-negotiated collective agreement. The latest figures now show that the coverage is down to just 23%. One very significant result is that the share of national income going to salaries and wages has fallen dramatically from 65% in 1980 to 53% in 2012 – a loss to employees of some £180bn!
This has happened partly from the collapse in trade union membership from 55% of the workforce in 1979 to 23% in 2012. But it has also happened partly as a result of the anti-trade union laws introduced in the 1980-90s and partly because the state has withdrawn support for collective bargaining as part of the free market ideology of de-regulation of all markets, including the labour market. It is somewhat ironic however that de-regulation of the labour market requires the tightest regulation of one of the key players in that market, the trade union movement.
An incoming Labour government should choose to enhance the role of trade unions because trade union rights are human rights, a trade union presence creates more just and equal workplaces, and trade union collective bargaining is more redistributive than statutory wage setting and will assist on the road from austerity. We should therefore actively promote sectoral collective bargaining and strengthen the rights of trade unions to recognition, and of their members to representation.
Signed by: Diane Abbott, Dave Anderson, Katy Clark, Jeremy Corbyn, Fabian Hamilton, Kelvin Hopkins, Ian Lavery, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Ian Mearns, Grahame Morris, Linda Riordan, Steve Rotherham, Jim Sheridan, Chris Williamson
We support SYRIZA and the Greens to spearhead the social-ecological transformation in the country, but express concerns about their choice of its coalition partner. In order to form a government, SYRIZA was quick to establish a coalition with the right-wing ANEL party,and some of the ministerial nominations in that coalition cast doubt on how progressive we can expect the resulting government to be. If they turn in out to follow old-minded policies focussed on national sovereignty, instead of implementing true democracy and solidarity throughout the EU, they will not succeed.
The time of austerity and social cuts must end: a haircut for Greece is necessary, unavoidable, righteous and much needed. The Greek debt is suffocating attempts of recovery and social transformation in the country, its austerity measures leave a generation of young people in agony and the social net of the country in pieces.
This is a major change for Greece and has an impact on Europe. The Prime Minister has regularly said during his campaign that he intends to discuss many aspects related to the "memorandum" and the Troika. We are looking forward to discussing them with him. The European Parliament is open to all discussion, but negotiations must be based on mutual respect and trust. It will also be important to stick to agreements made to stabilise the country and the European Union. I am looking forward to working closely with Prime Minister Tsipras in this regard.
What the Greek election will also show is that there are some warning signs in the global economy, including in the eurozone, less rapid growth from the developing economies. These warning signs point even more to the importance of sticking to our long-term economic plan that is delivering rather than taking a risk with the people who got us into this mess with their plans for more borrowing, more spending, more tax – all the things that got us into the mess in the first place.
Via Cameron’s twitter: The Greek election will increase economic uncertainty across Europe. That's why the UK must stick to our plan, delivering security at home.
There are internal euro zone rules to be respected. We cannot make special categories for such or such country. It's not a question of austerity measures; these are in-depth reforms that remain to be done.
It is up to each country to choose its own path on how to deal with the economic and social challenges they face.
Syriza’s victory opens up the real prospect of democratic change not just for the people of Greece, but for citizens’ right across the EU.
- Commitments have been made and now must be delivered on (29/1)
- Our aim is that the agreement, in every way in the medium and long term, establishes an economic framework compatible between Greece and France. The method is dialogue with the new prime minister of Greece, which wants to remain in the Eurozone and is committed to greater cohesion within the Eurozone. (4/2)
- All taken from the same press conference –
(…) I'm sure that there are conditions to find an agreement. (…)
(…) I spent the first year as prime minister accused of being a dangerous man of the left in the EU and in Italy a dangerous man right ... For me, the arrival of Alexis is a blessing. (…)
(…) I am convinced that we all need to read the results of the Greek elections the message of hope that comes from a generation of people claiming to have more attention. (…)
(…) Their election had the phrase “We bring hope”. Hope now is expected for the Greek People. Maybe the people's expectations are a little too high. But nothing happened in a day. Tsipras knows that.(…)
(…) People do not have electricity, because they cannot afford the electricity bill. Hundreds of thousands are depended on food aid. These things need to be changed first.(…)
It is right and important, to point out the dangers of austerity politics for the European course. This course is at the time far too firmly represented by Germany and it has to change. The question is how we get along with Greece. The Greeks need more air to breath. They have to enter a state, where politics applied are socially acceptable and are facilitate to growth. Greece needs time. We must give the Greeks a fair chance. This is what our chancellor said.
(…) We share the skepticism about whether with shortening and austerity an upswing comes again. For jobs investment is needed. We share with SYRIZA the position that privatization, sell-out of the water and all that is owned by the state, is the wrong way. Also in the fight against tax fraud on the one hand and on the other hand, for tax on large fortunes we have substantive overlap. (…)
(…) Syriza has proposed major reforms in Greece, particularly in relation to the tax system so that all sectors and all Greeks participate in the respect of social justice in this effort. It is inconceivable that some continue to be exempt from tax and the weakest are the only ones to pay the price of a debt which they are not responsible. These reforms are a prerequisite for a return of confidence, investment, and thus growth and employment.
Europe and the euro area are faced with their responsibilities. The urgency is to allow Greece to succeed his reforms and avoid the whole of the eurozone crisis. Greece is Europe, it cannot be otherwise. (…)
(…) Greece is an ally in Europe, and this alliance can show a new path, that of a new direction in European policy, one that puts people at the heart of the issues, well before the financial interests of a few. One that reconciles respect for common rules and determination to build a better future.
Awareness, including the European institutions, that austerity is a dead end because of this period a time for reorientation of European policy. It is on this new path must converge all progressive forces in Europe, side by side. They can, together, allow all Europeans to look to the future with confidence.
In the name of this future that France must be a clear policy requirement that speaks to the Greeks as to all the peoples of Europe, supporting the Greek requirement to make sustainable repayment of its debt, by advocating a genuine European negotiating instead injunctions of the Troika, supporting the reduction of the primary surplus that the Greek State has to clear, ensuring the necessary investments for economic and social recovery and job creation.(…)
Signed by:Amirshahi Pouria, député, Martin Édouard, député européen, Assaf Christian – Député, Bachelay Alexis – Député, Balas Guillaume – Député européen, Baumel Laurent – Député, Baumel Philippe – Député, Bechtel Marie-Françoise – Députée, Blazy Jean-Pierre – Député, Bouziane Kheira – Députée, Bruneau Isabelle – Députée, Cabanel Henir – Sénateur, Carrey-Conte Fanélie – Députée, Chabanne Nathalie – Députée, Chauvel Dominique – Député, Cherki Pascal – Député, Doucet Sandrine – Députée, Dufau Jean-Pierre – Député, Durain Jérôme – Sénateur, Dussopt Olivier – Député, Féron Hervé – Député, Gaillard Geneviève – Députée, Galut Yann – Député, Goldberg Daniel – Député, Gorce Gaetan – Sénateur, Gourjade Linda – Députée, Gueugneau Edith – Députée, Hamon Benoit – Député, Hanotin Mathieu – Député, Juanico Régis – Député, Kalinowski Laurent – Député, Khirouni Chaynesse – Députée, Léonard Christophe – Député, Leroy Arnaud – Député, Liem Hoang Ngoc -Député européen, Lienemann Marie-Noëlle – Sénatrice, Maurel Emmanuel – Député européen, Noguès Philippe – Député, Paul Christian – Député, Pouzol Michel – Député, Prat Patrice – Député, Premat Christophe – Député, Reynaud Marie-Line – Députée, Robiliard Denys – Député, Romagnan Barbara – Députée, Sebaoun Gérard – Député, Tallard Isabelle – Députée, Thomas Isabelle – Députée européenne, Travert Stéphane – Député, Vergnier Michel – Député, Zanetti Paola – Députée
The issue for Greece is not debt cancellation it is the affordability of the debt, so that means the interest rates and the maturities. So, I would suggest that the way forward is to make debt affordable by restructuring. We’ll see how the new Greek government handles negotiations.
We respect the Greek election results. It is a clear government mandate for those who won the election, and now we will see what the new Government does. Nobody imposes anything on Greece. Obligations apply.
I wish to congratulate you for Syriza's victory... I hope the election result leads to the forming of a stable government committed to the programme of European integration that Greece and Spain share.
Everybody should show respect. We certainly respect the decision of the Greek people. We are ready to work with any government elected to power.
Membership of the eurozone also means you comply with all that we have agreed with each other. On that basis we stand ready to work with them.
In our view it is important for the new government to take action to foster Greece's continued economic recovery. That also means Greece sticking to its previous commitments.
(…) EU institutions and national governments face in Greece these days the failure of adequate answers to an historic severe economic downturn and the development of economic policies that have widened inequalities and hampered the European project.
This is why we sincerely believe that solidarity should prevail and that we should make every effort to change the catastrophic course that had been set for Greece in recent years. If this is done effectively then the whole of Europe will benefit.
Greece offers us the opportunity to put our citizens back at the core of the European project, reclaiming human dignity and placing it at the centre of our policies, as well as formulating responsible and timely solutions to the problems we are facing.
The threats made to the new Greek government in recent days are not acceptable; rather the EU institutions should respect the outcome of the latest elections and begin constructive negotiations with the new government.(…)
First signatures: Marina Albiol (GUE/NGL, ES) Guillaume Balas (S&D, FR) Sergio Coffferati (S&D, IT) Pablo Iglesias (GUE/NGL, ES) Eva Joly (Greens/EFA, FR) Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE) Edouard Martin (S&D, FR) Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL, PT) Liliana Rodrigues (S&D, PT) Molly Scott Cato (Greens/EFA, UK) Barbara Spinelli, (GUE/NGL, IT) Marc Tarabella, (S&D, BE) Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, ES)
Two of the main messages in the Italian text below are:
The elections in Greece are an opportunity for Europe to invest in various sectors such as the real economy, research and development, culture.
The Greek election result is an opportunity for Europe. An opportunity which is not to be missed, however it will have to be accompanied by a strong political responsibility.
Dopo l’affermazione elettorale di Alexis Tsipras
Il greco e l’Europa
Con la vittoria di Syriza alle elezioni greche si apre certamente una fase nuova in Europa, una fase che passa attraverso l’espansione di uno spazio sociale, in reazione alle politiche di austerità. Quanto più i cittadini europei chiedono di essere coinvolti al di là delle logiche dei mercati, tanto più il lavoro della politica deve essere quello di accogliere le istanze che partono dalla società. Quello che serve — e sembra essere questo il messaggio proveniente da Atene — è una nuova idea di Unione che deve per un momento accantonare i problemi della moneta unica e dei suoi effetti, dei mercati e dell’austerità. Si tratta di una visione alternativa, pragmatica e non fideistica, che possa riproporre con forza il ruolo dell’Europa come esempio di democrazia e di rispetto dei diritti umani. E a ben guardare, questo momento di crisi può essere, ripartendo dalle elezioni in Grecia, l’occasione per l’Europa di valorizzare le proprie specificità, investendo in vari settori come l’economia reale, la ricerca e lo sviluppo, la cultura. Adesso tocca ad Alexis Tsipras fare il primo passo verso Bruxelles e verso gli altri Governi della zona dell’euro con le sue proposte. Ma un grande gesto di solidarietà potrebbe venire subito dai Governi europei verso quello di Atene, dopo una intelligente negoziazione, con una operazione di ristrutturazione del debito. Questa dovrebbe comunque accompagnarsi a un programma di riforme interne in campo economico e amministrativo (come fu fatto del resto per la Polonia nel 1991 o per vari Paesi in via di sviluppo). Quella greca non è in fondo una situazione isolata: molti Paesi europei potrebbero scivolare in una “trappola del debito”. Ed è per scongiurare questo rischio che va rafforzata la crescita reale e bisogna immaginare qualcosa di concreto per rilanciare appunto la dimensione sociale della zona euro. È forse ipotizzabile, in vista delle decisioni future, la nascita di un vero e proprio Consiglio europeo congiunto in cui i capi di Stato e di Governo e i ministri dell’Economia e del Welfare possano riunirsi per individuare le strade da percorrere verso una crescita dell’occupazione. Un tavolo che abbia la possibilità di decidere velocemente, individuando i settori da sostenere con l’obiettivo principale di creare nuovi posti di lavoro. Occorre quindi leggere nel risultato elettorale greco un’opportunità per l’Europa. Un’occasione da non perdere che sarà tale, però, solo se sarà accompagnata da una forte azione di responsabilità politica. La crescita non si stimola attraverso le tasse: servono investimenti pubblici nei campi della ricerca e dell’innovazione, occorre trovare modi per consentire ai Paesi più deboli di realizzare investimenti produttivi, attraverso la qualità e non attraverso la quantità dei finanziamenti, con un ruolo rinnovato della Banca europea degli investimenti e della Banca centrale europea. Tutto questo significa creare lavoro, che è appunto la più alta delle sfide per la politica. Ma significa anche rafforzare la democrazia attraverso l’abbandono di quella “finanziarizzazione” dell’economia che ha creato e sta creando gravi diseguaglianze. La riscoperta e la valorizzazione di un vero progetto per l’Europa può dunque partire da sud, creando le condizioni per la definizione di una strategia di sviluppo integrale e riaffermando la centralità della politica nei confronti della spirale tecnocratica.
The new prime minister of Greece says, austerity does not work. – Reply by US president Obama: „When you have an economy that is in a free fall, there has to be a growth strategy and not simply the effort to squeeze more and more out of a population that is hurting worse and worse.“