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German stance on Greek debt relief unacceptable – Carthy

5 December, 2016 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Fein MEP has condemned the position of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble regarding granting debt relief to Greece following today’s Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.

Carthy, a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said: “The German position on Greek debt relief is completely unrealistic and counter-productive. Yet again we have threats and ultimatums from Germany, whose leaders have warned Greece it will be kicked out of the Eurozone unless it meets impossible targets and implements reforms that will worsen the rights and living standards of the Greek people.

“For more than a year the IMF has stated that without a debt write-down by creditors, it will be impossible for Greece to reach its debt reduction targets, meaning that the IMF could not participate in the bailout programme due to its own rules on lending to states with unsustainable debt. Last month US President Barack Obama joined the calls for meaningful debt relief for Greece.

“The German position ignores the reality that the debt is impossible to repay. Their position is entirely driven by domestic considerations – in other words, next year’s federal election in Germany.

“The situation is absurd - almost all of the €86 billion provided under the third memorandum, when provided, will go straight back out of Greece to repay the ECB and IMF, while Greece’s debt keeps growing. In fact between May and December, Greece’s debt has grown from €311bn euro to €330bn euro, or 180 per cent of GDP.”

Carthy also reacted to the so-called labour reforms being demanded of the Greek government in the current review of the bailout programme.

He said: “The IMF is also demanding the Greek government attack workers’ rights through further ‘labour reforms’ and privatisations before it would agree to contribute funds to the bailout programme. The labour reforms are the subject of ongoing negotiations between the creditors, including the European Commission and the ECB, and the Greek government. These creditors are refusing to allow the Greek government to implement fundamental human rights by re-establishing collective bargaining and collective agreements – a move that violates European legislation and practice.

"Are we supposed to accept that the EU can selectively exclude Greece from the rights of workers to negotiate and conclude collective agreements that are supposedly enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Social Charter? This position is appalling.

“Such treatment of Greece has been a major contributing factor to the rise of cynicism towards the EU across the continent. EU leaders tell us on the one hand that they are committed to a social Europe based on the realisation of human rights. On the other hand they threaten member states with expulsion if they refuse to attack fundamental rights that are supposedly protected by EU law. The leaders of the EU need to wake up and open their eyes to the impact their policies are having on citizens across Europe."

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