Proclaiming a pro-EU stance without supporting federalism is “meaningless” and amounts to talking the talk but not walking the walk, according to Greece’s digital policy minister.
In an interview with Greek newspaper Avgi, Minister of Digital Policy, Media and Telecommunications Nikos Pappas, who is also a close ally of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, insisted that Europe should strengthen the rhetoric promoting serious integration.
“The European governance model has shown its limits and all the criticism it has been receiving for two decades has proved to be fair,” he noted.
According to Pappas, Europeanism without federalism is “meaningless”. In a veiled criticism towards the Greek opposition, Pappas said that those joining the “We remain in Europe” movement, while not advocating radical changes such as a European unemployment allowance, a higher EU budget, a banking union and the strengthening the European Parliament powers, “swim in an ideologically shallow area”.
“We remain in Europe” was created in Greece just before the July 2015 referendum to decide if Greece should accept the third bailout conditions. Almost all Greek opposition parties joined this movement and campaigned on the platform that a “No” vote in the referendum would mean a ‘Grexit’ from the EU.
This view was shared by many EU leaders as well; however, they changed their rhetoric when the no vote ultimately prevailed.
But the leftist Syriza government had made it clear that the referendum would be on the terms of the bailout and not EU membership.
The Greek minister stressed that what prevailed in Europe over the last twenty years was a “neoliberal consensus”, which was basically the result of cooperation between social democrats and the centre-right conservative political forces. “This recipe is now faced with an impasse,” he said.
According to Pappas, Europe is at crossroads and has two choices: either going far right and turning back to nationalism and the ideology of hatred or moving toward a progressive and left agenda.
“It seems that parts of social democracy have begun to revise the strategic choices they made in the past two decades,” he emphasised.
The collapse of the grand coalition in the European Parliament after the EPP’s Antonio Tajani triumphed in the presidential election was viewed as a chance to reinforce cooperation with the progressive powers on the left side of the political spectrum.
In a recent interview with euractiv.com, Gianni Pittella, the leader of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D group) in the European Parliament, said that he could cooperate with Manfred Weber and Guy Verhofstadt in terms of reinforcing political EU integration. But when it comes to the social agenda and the fiscal compact, things change.
“With the progressive forces I find more convergence on these issues,” he noted.
However, there is a part of the socialist family, especially in Eastern countries, that is still unconvinced and skeptical about such a move.
Being under pressure from the left, EU socialists are proclaiming a new narrative for the EU and adopt a pro-federalist approach.
The S&D officially joined the pro-EU march last month in Rome and socialist lawmakers spoke openly in favor of a united and federal Europe. The ALDE party was also there, while the EPP did not join the march officially but there were several MEPs.
One of them was Elmar Brok, who is also President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF). Speaking at the event, Brok attacked nationalist parties across Europe but did not make any reference to a federal Europe.
Med summit in Spain
In the meantime, the EU’s southern members will hold today (10 April) their third meeting in Madrid.
The Athens News Agency quoted Greek government sources as saying that this enhanced cooperation has had tangible results until now.
“The role of the EU Southern countries towards the Benelux and Visegrád countries is reinforced and further supported through this initiative […] but also following Brexit,” sources said.