Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thinking European South’s future beyond financial recovery

By Spyros Danellis, Member of the European Parliament 

The dramatic economic crisis we’ve been traversing over the last years has forced us to face the weaknesses of the political system that prevailed after the regime change of 1974. We’ve been sweeping these weaknesses under the carpet for too long; we’ve been consciously mortgaging the future of the generations to come. Reality has burst in our faces in the worst possible way, in Greece as well as in the other countries of the European South. The non-existent real economy (the private sector depending essentially on the state), the predominance of governments formed on the basis of clientelistic networks (the public sector being used as a “voter depository”), the inconceivable inadequacy of the political and administrative staff, the farmers that have been transformed into subsidy gatherers, all these are pieces of the puzzle that has led us in a situation where we were admiring the emperor’s shiny new clothes, while the emperor was nude! Facing the nudeness was a shocking experience with serious side-effects such as the raise of extreme populist forces promising to dress our society with the same old shiny clothes. 
We cannot come up against the sirens of populism unless we struggle for the creation of a new social and political coalition that will progressively put productive work and efficient governance into focus. In the midst of the crisis, we can already get a glimpse of a new Greece: young farmers are renovating the “species” by reorienting their production and commercialization methods, new extrovert commercial forces are placed under the international spotlight, tourism offer is improving and getting modernized, the populist rhetoric is presenting symptoms of fatigue, the extreme corporatist mobilization has been losing its strength. These are signs that a part of Greek society is a step ahead from the political forces and it will increasingly demand changes in order to enforce its interests: the support of real economy, the fight against tax evasion, the restructuring of healthcare services, the creation of a market and economy oriented education system that will serve the graduates’ needs instead of “feeding” the public sector. 
The ensuing question is the following: who is willing and able to respond to these new conditions that demand to embrace the emerging culture of efficiency as well as to steadily fight populism and political inertia? The answer to this question goes far beyond financial recovery and is linked to the support of real economy and employment and to the solidarity towards those severely affected. 
As a member of the European Parliament and the MEP Spinelli Group (, I would like to underline the european dimension of the answers we’re seeking: 
“We oppose the backward and reactionary direction towards a looser instead of a closer Union, towards a more national instead of post-national Europe. Europe has been yet again abducted – by a coalition of national politicians. It is time to bring her back. We believe that this is not the moment for Europe to slow down further integration, but on the contrary to accelerate it. The history of the European Union has proven that more Europe, not less, is the answer to the problems we face. Only with European solutions and a renewed European spirit will we be able to tackle the worldwide challenges”. 
The countries of the European South are not only sharing common problems. The wealth of our social and cultural traditions is an invaluable added value to the struggle to bring Europe back. 

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