Time for EU leaders to deliver on commitments to Greece

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras welcomes commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici earlier this year in Athens. [European Commission]

The Eurogroup will today (5 December) examine the progress Greece has made so far. Now the EU must deliver on their own commitments, write Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Udo Bullmann and Pervenche Berès.

Dimitrios Papadimoulis is Vice President of the European Parliament, and head of the Syriza party delegation. MEP Udo Bullmann is head of the SPD delegation. MEP Pervenche Berès is head of the S&D in the ECON Committee.

The government of Alexis Tsipras has implemented all reforms agreed and the domestic economy shows strong signs of recovery reaching considerable growth during the last semester.

Now it is time for the European institutions to deliver on their own commitments stemming from the July 2015 agreement, and move towards the concretisation of debt relief measures ( Greece’s debt has reached almost 180% of GDP).

Debt relief is part of the bailout deal, but it has been also discussed during last May’s Eurogroup. EU leaders have already acknowledged Greece’s astonishing progress, fiscal stability and the extent of structural reforms as well as the need for the government to remain in this path of reforms and development for the coming period.

In this context, the time for elaborating a concrete debt relief proposal has arrived. The IMF has repeatedly rung the bell on Greece’s unsustainable debt, but this has to be a departing point for all creditors, having in mind that we are seeking to secure the financial stability of Greece, but also the systemic stability of the euro area.

EU leaders should deliver a clear message and act for the mutual benefit of Greece and eurozone. Any further delay or additional impediments would damage what Greece has achieved and let down the Greek people. The economy is expected to grow by 2.7% in 2017, for the first time since 2008.

Debt relief is indispensable so that we can also feel as Europeans and Greeks that we are turning the page and drag the eurozone and Greece outside the financial crisis and recession. Greeks have done a lot of sacrifices, unlike any other European constituency, to balance the mismanagement and the damaged occurred during the previous ten years. This process was harsh and painful, as wages and pensions were cut by 38% between 2009 and 2014, child poverty and suicide rates increased dramatically, while massive spending cuts have weakened the education and the healthcare sector.

At these crucial moments for the European establishment, we need to invest in unity, support our European project, and urge member-states with excessive trade surpluses to invest in other EU member-states towards improving regional and social cohesion. The challenges posed by the election of Trump in the United States and the rise of populist far-right have to be addressed efficiently by the democratic and progressive forces of our continent.

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