Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent yesterday (23 March) a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asking if the bloc’s acquis communautaire applies to all EU countries without exception or it’s applicable to all except Greece.
In his letter, which was also sent to European Council President Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, leftist Tsipras expressed his country’s intention to support the Rome Declaration “which moves in a positive direction”.
He noted that in these 60 years, the EU consolidated the achievements of its peoples whose goal is to “ensure progress, prosperity, and peace”.
“Nevertheless, in order to be able to celebrate these achievements, it has to be made clear, on an official level, whether they apply also to Greece. Whether, in other words, the European acquis is valid for all member states without exception, or for all except Greece,” the Greek prime minister said.
Greece and its lenders are in tough negotiations for the conclusion of the second review of the bailout. But creditors have asked for new reforms from Athens on the labor market and, particularly, not to restore collective agreements. Instead they want to impose collective redundancies.
Greece as a “paradigm”
Minister of Labour, Social Security, and Welfare, Effie Achtsioglou, recently said it was obvious that the neoliberal forces view the issue of labor relations in Greece as a “new paradigm that must be generalised”.
“In this sense, the end of labour deregulation and the restoration of labour regularity in Greece will be a victory for all European workers,” she emphasised.
The discussion about labour relations in Greece and the non-implementation of the EU acquis puts the European Commission in a difficult position.
Speaking at the European Parliament this week, embattled Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem stressed that collective agreements in the Greek labour market should be restored, but still has to be decided by the country’s creditors.
Tsipras explained that Greece has been in programs of economic adjustment for the last seven years, in the name of which “a situation of exception from our common European acquis has been implicitly imposed”.
“Most notably this relates to the exception from the European acquis on social rights and specifically the exception from ‘best practices’ on labour relations and collective bargaining,” the leftist politician insisted, stressing that it’s not understood why there should be a prolongation of the exception of Greece from the European social acquis.
Dijsselbloem’s “stupid” remarks
Speaking yesterday (23 March) at an event in Rome, Alexis Tsipras said that the crisis had widened the gap between the European north and south, but also deepened the divisions in Europe through “aggressive and irrational stereotypes”.
Referring to Dijsselbloem, he stressed, “Fortunately there are few who want to hide the economic inequality that neoliberalism has caused, behind a nonexistent cultural separation […] They do it by resorting to ridiculous stereotypes and a biased rhetoric of prudent north and irresponsible south”.
“Instead of stupid statements for ‘drinks and women’, Dijsselbloem should better ask from Germany to increase its public expenditure,” Tsipras claimed.