/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
In an interview to Germany’s Focus magazine, that was published after July 2 meeting of the finance ministers of the euro zone who formally approved a further 12 billion euro bailout to Greece, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Junker said that “Greek sovereignty will be massively limited”.
Juncker was referring to the massive wave of privatizations that will take place in Greece and was suggesting that the country will need to work upon a model similar to the one that was applied in Eastern Germany after the fall of communism and the unification of Germany in the 1990’s. Towards that end Juncker made reference to the “Truehand Agency” that sold off 14.000 firms in East Germany within four years, from 1990 to 1994.
There are a number of issues that rise from the statements of the Eurogroup’s Chairman that first have to do with the words that he uses to describe the privatization process that will take place, second with the example of East Germany that he brings up and third with the rhetoric of the EU that the issue is a “Greek” problem and not a systemic single currency problem.
Starting from the words that Juncker used, we see that he raises the most important of issues a nation-state has: that of sovereignty. There is no nation on the planet, no people on this earth who would voluntarily live under limited sovereignty. All humans want to be free, to have power over their territory, to create their own laws, to build their own institutions. I really wonder if the Eurogroup President lives on another planet, because judging from what he said it seems as if he ignores the struggles of peoples in all corners of the globe for freedom. The people who are struggling on the streets in every part of the world are asking for sovereignty Mr. Juncker. They are asking for more power over their land and their institutions. If you come to Greece with the intention to limit the sovereignty of the country all you will achieve is a bloody conflict with unpredictable ramifications. The Greek people will never accept that and they will be right to do so.
The second issue that arises from Juncker’s sayings is the case of East Germany. He speaks of East Germany as if that part of Europe is a prosperous one. One in which the massive privatizations lead to prosperity. One that can be seen as a paradigm of successful policy. Mr. Juncker seems to omit the harsh reality of the region, which shows that East Germany never managed to catch up with the Western part and unemployment (especially among the youth) and underdevelopment are persistent problems. East Germany is an example of the exact opposite of what the EU intends to do to Greece. The failing practices that took place in east Germany, those vaunted neo-liberal beliefs, should be a lesson for those bureaucrats who seem to forget what real world facts and history tell us.
Thirdly Juncker makes mention to the Greek crisis and how all the measures of the EU will help at solving the problem. This is a complete lie. Firstly because the crisis is not a “Greek” crisis but a systemic crisis of the single European currency at first and the EU architecture at second. Furthermore it is a lie because the money that is given to Greece is not directed towards improving the situation in the real economy, towards shifting the trade balance, improving and simplifying the bureaucracy, boosting local production. The money from the bailout is only used to finance the creditors of Greece, who are in their majority German and French financial institutions. The “safety” packages of the troika (EU, ECB, IMF) are not intended to prevent a Greek bankruptcy as this is impossible with the current conditions. All that they are achieving through these bailouts is to buy precious time that will allow them to minimize the costs of the inevitable Greek default.
There needs to come a point were European leaders sit on a table and agree for once to tell the truth to European citizens. To explain to them that the euro is a problematic currency, with serious structural flaws that generate inequalities and asymmetric shocks. To tell all 500 million people who reside within the EU that their tax money which takes the form of bailouts towards Greece, Ireland and Portugal is not intended towards addressing the root of the problem but is a means of indirectly covering the lack of liquidity that the problematic European Banking System faces. To tell the tax payers that their money ends up in private banks and not in aiding peripheral economies, who experience the asymmetric shocks of the system. This is what I, as a European citizen, expect from my European Union. Not empty words, not hypocritical rhetoric, not threats against any nation’s sovereignty
Contributed By Protesilaos Stavrou