Edition: International | Greek
MENU

Home » Interviews

Rodi Kratsa (EP Vice President): Greece in need of a ‘development shock’ for the strengthening of the economy

Europe was self-conscious and weak when facing the Greek problem, using ambiguous or vague statements regarding solidarity. From the beginning I put forward this issue to all European bodies and asked for a strong European response through imaginative solutions in the frame of the European Treaties

By: Athanase Papandropoulos - Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

The financial issue has taken enormous dimensions and has already hit the real economy and the society. The insufficient financing of the social state, the lack of resources for policies promoting active employment and the booming of unemployment will be only some of the repercussions expected to provoke deterioration of the public finances.
The financial issue has taken enormous dimensions and has already hit the real economy and the society. The insufficient financing of the social state, the lack of resources for policies promoting active employment and the booming of unemployment will be only some of the repercussions expected to provoke deterioration of the public finances.

How do you judge the European Council conclusions regarding the creation of a funding mechanism for countries that face loan problems as well the participation of International Monetary Fund? How important is it for Greece?

Finally there was a common European answer and decision but the result demonstrates that this decision is not efficient enough to change the crucial situation in Greece and protect the country from speculation and high onerous rates. And of course, Greece has a cause to do whatever is possible in order not to use this specific funding mechanism that involves the participation of the International Monetary Fund. I would also like to note that the announcement of Mr. Jean – Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, that Greek government bonds with lower credit ratings are going to be still acceptable after 2010 as collateral for granting credits in the Greek banks, was of greater value regarding the liquidity in the national market and the strengthening of the real economy.

The Greek economy has reached a critical point. Recently, the government adopted a number of additional measures in order to achieve a 4 % deficit reduction. Do you believe that these measures will be sufficient enough to lead Greece out of the recession?

Indeed our economy is facing huge pressure and it is necessary to adopt measures that are part of an integrated eeconomic recovery strategy. According to the government measures we conclude that there is a lack of growth measures based on reforms and incentives, so as a result there is a high risk for our economy to enter a period of deep recession and high unemployment. New Democracy proposes measures that require no fiscal cost but present high development growth. Measures like the reduction of bureaucracy in relation to the establishment and operation of businesses, the acceleration of the absorption rate of EU funds, the deregulation of professions and the enactment of legislation to define a framework for investments in industry, services and tourism do not involve costs but can still contribute to the economy’s recovery. We have to avoid the worse and this can be done with a comprehensive policy focused on development.

Did the impact of the economic crisis bring to surface the question of European Community solidarity? Do you believe that Europe demonstrated solidarity to Greece?

Up to now economic solidarity was expressed through the Structural Funds and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that contribute to development and regional integration. It is also occasionally expressed at the occurrence of natural disasters. In the case of the financial crisis and the critical consequences in a country especially attacked by the financial market, we had not foreseen ways of mutual support. For this reason, Europe was self-conscious and weak when facing the Greek problem, using ambiguous or vague statements regarding solidarity. From the beginning, I put forward this issue to all European bodies and asked for a strong European response through imaginative solutions in the frame of the European Treaties. I always believed and stated that the European Union can neither allow Greece to slide into national bankruptcy nor hand it over to the International Monetary Fund. Portugal, Spain, Italy would probably be next in line to be attacked by the hedge funds. In that case, the euro would be in danger and, for the first time so seriously, also the future of the European project.

What is the future of over-indebted and socially confined Greece in the European reality?

Undoubtedly in this case here is no future. Greece, just like any other member of the eurozone, should face the problem of debt without further delays and negligence. The financial issue has taken enormous dimensions and has already hit the real economy and the society. The insufficient financing of the social state, the lack of resources for policies promoting active employment and the booming of unemployment will be only some of the repercussions expected to provoke deterioration of the public finances. At the same time, in the relations with our partners are hindered and we are losing our dynamic and our common course. Facing this prospect, we should not remain inactive. We have proved that when we take action without rigidities and distortions we can be in the world’s avant-garde, as in the shipping sector. Greece can have an important role in future Europe because it has many cultural, natural and geostrategic advantages. This can happen, as long as the Greek system seriously confronts the inherent problems and the 'shut doors' that get into the way of the powers of creation and productivity.

What would the Greek economy’s condition be if it hadn’t joined the eurozone?

In that case, our national currency would have been under an attack of unprecedented scale from the hedge funds. The drachma would be de facto devaluated in world markets, reaching similar levels of devaluation of currencies of Eastern European countries hit by the crisis, as in particular the case of Latvia (-25%). As a result, lending interest rates would reach double digits, certainly above 15%, creating difficulties for any efforts aimed at economic recovery. Unemployment rates would be highly increased so appealing for help to the International Monetary Fund would not be a threat but a terminus that would include painful conditions. This bitter scenario demonstrates the importance of the strategic choice in 1974 of K. Karamanlis and the New Democracy party to join the European family and later find ourselves within the core of the euro area. It is our mistake because we did not significantly adjust to this new reality, so much for the obligations as for the opportunities. What is most important right now is to regain the trust of our partners by implementing a structural reforms plan that will compose a new development model for a viable and competitive economy.

With the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, is it not of vital need to eliminate the “communication deficit” between the citizens and the European Parliament?

The communication with the citizens in an interactive process is a vital need for the success of a political and humane project and dream, as is the unity of Europe. The European Parliament puts in a lot of effort to that direction using a number of traditional and modern means, like briefing of journalists in member-states, in Brussels, in Strasbourg, information campaigns in cooperation with local institutions, awareness actions like the European Citizen Prize, active presence on the internet, facebook, webtv etc. However, what we need especially is the cooperation at national level, ie. of the governments, the national parliaments and the regional authorities, in order to highlight the interdependence between national and European policy and as a result the importance of our work and of the role we play in every day life and in the future of the citizens. As Vice-President responsible for information and communication, I believe that the Lisbon Treaty offers a great challenge to this direction. The European Parliament is gaining power as co-legislator on equal terms with the Council. This needs to be highlighted in order to draw the attention of the citizens to our activity. The more the citizens feel that the European Parliament has a decisive role, the more they will seek information and cooperation with the institution itself and its members.

To what extent, according to your assessment, could the European Parliament promote to European citizens the feeling that Europe is their common homeland?

The European Parliament is indeed the place, where the conscience of a community with common values, common future could be cultivated. It hosts the directly elected representatives of european peoples. We cultivate the dialogue, the solidarity, the consensus in decision making. As you already know, the European Parliament is also open to the citizens, systematically hosting events and visits. With the new Visitors’ Center underway as well as with the House of European History, we aim at highlighting the common European identity as well as the modern European citizenship.

Is the European Parliament's communication developed in cooperation or relation to the rest of the European bodies, and more particular the European Commission?

Definitely. All institutions follow the communication policy in order to present the importance, the progress and the policies of European Union and promote the dialogue with the citizens. During the last years, an inter-Institutional Working Group has been established on communication issues between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council. We try to define a commonly accepted strategy and cooperation, while retaining the main goals and the specific character of each institution and its methods.

What does the Vice-Presidency of the European Parliament imply for you and what are your duties in comparison to those of a regular MEP?

I would like to point out that the duties of a Vice President are added to those of an MEP, something that implies hard and endless work along with multiple displacements. Even up until now, from my position as 1st Vice-President, I had the opportunity to represent the European Parliament at significant international contacts, to express its principles and engagements for peace and sustainable development in the international scene. I was also given the opportunity to play an important role in the negotiation and the decision-making procedure with the Council on crucial issues of the European legislation, like the maritime policy, the environmental programs and the euromediterranean policy. My re-election as Vice-President is for me a reward and a great honour, especially in a period full of aspirations for a more democratic and efficient Europe, with a coherent policy and a common voice in the world. Some of our special challenges include the successful function of our services in the framework of the Lisbon Treaty, the need for a more extensive and profound communication with the citizens, the strengthening of the parliamentary dimension in tackling the financial crisis and climate change. It is an honour and a great responsibility to hold the Vice-Presidency of a continuously evolving institution, which, despite the information and communication gap, holds the first place among all political institutions of the trust of European citizens.

Editor’s Column

The Brexit negotiations near to an end…

N. Peter KramerBy: N. Peter Kramer

On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet that while he could see a ‘pathway’ to a deal, there was ‘still a significant amount of work’ needed to get there

View 03/2019 2019 Digital edition

Magazine

Current Issue

03/2019 2019

View past issues
Subscribe
Advertise
Digital edition

Europe

European Shipyards, Manufacturers Urge EU to Safeguard Industry

European Shipyards, Manufacturers Urge EU to Safeguard Industry

European social partners for the maritime technology sector have once again called upon EU policy-makers to adopt a dedicated European industrial strategy for the sector

Business

How tech can help businesses balance profit and purpose

How tech can help businesses balance profit and purpose

With the US administration turning its back on the Paris Climate Agreement, demands for corporate climate leadership are mounting

MARKET INDICES

Powered by Investing.com
All contents © Copyright EMG Strategic Consulting Ltd. 1997-2019. All Rights Reserved   |   Home Page  |   Disclaimer  |   Website by Theratron