Athens has no reason to fear the consequences of a Brexit vote, Greece’s Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, told EURACTIV.com on Wednesday (22 June).
“Athens has no particular reason to be afraid. However, it is concerned about the future of the EU integration process,” the minister said, expressing his hope that moderate pro-EU forces will eventually prevail.
Since the beginning, the Greek government adopted a cautious stance toward the UK “opt-outs” from EU policy areas such as judicial cooperation, Xydakis said.
“We strongly criticised it as too many opt-outs will significantly weaken [the European] unification project and vision,” said the minister, who is from the left-wing Syriza party.
Despite the fact that Greece has paid “very expensively” for the Euruopean integration process, it remains committed to further economic and political unification, Xydakis argued, saying it “will make the EU more attractive in citizens’ eyes as they demand a single labour market and rights”.
Against a Brexit
“A British exit from the EU would adversely affect British and Irish people on an economic level and possibly strengthen the centrifugal tendencies in Scotland,” Xydakis underlined, adding that a Brexit would deal a political blow to Europe.
“Europe’s pylon in the Atlantic Ocean will be weakened. Europe without Britain is unimaginable, considering the historical balance of power,” he pointed out.
Asked about Greece’s stance on the UK referendum, Xydakis stressed that Athens was definitely against a Brexit.
Juncker and Tusk “now concerned”
Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk and his European Commission counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker, have reiterated their serious concerns over the British vote, sources told EURACTIV.
During a visit to Athens this week, Juncker was reported to be anxious about a Brexit vote and the “huge chaos” it would create in international markets.
The same sources stressed that Juncker was in an uneasy position, as he also feels the pressure from German politicians, who heavily criticised his recent visit to Moscow.
EURACTIV has learned that talks about the British presidency of the Council (July-December 2017) are already taking place, as officials want to avoid the paradox of having a country out of the EU holding the rotating six-month presidency.