In a heated debate about the state of play of the Greek macro-economic adjustment programme, the centre-left parties S&D, GUE, Greens/EFA, but also the conservative ECR, warned Greece’s creditors and the IMF not to impose more reforms on the country and advocated debt relief. Some MEPs attacked the IMF for being too tough on reforms whereas the centre-right EPP underlined the need for them.
Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici gave a positive debrief after Monday’s Eurogroup meeting, saying that Greece is expected to return to growth in the second half of 2016 and to a deficit of less than 3% in 2017. He expects an agreement at the Eurogroup’s 24 May meeting on the reforms and the contingency mechanism (to assure the primary surplus of 3.5% by 2018), so that the disbursements under the programme can continue. The second step would then be to start talks about debt relief, repeating that nominal haircuts are “a red line”.
EPP leader Manfred Weber (DE) criticised Prime Minister Tsipras. Referring to the 0.7% growth figure in 2014, he blamed the Tsipras government for slipping below zero growth in 2015 and “harming the country”. He took Ireland as an example of a programme country that recovered as a result of reforms.
S&D leader Gianni Pitella (IT) said that the problem is not Athens, but the IMF with its policy of preventive austerity. “If they continue to sabotage an agreement, we have to go it alone”, he said.
ECR’s Notis Marias labelled the Greek programme as “violent and leading to a social Armageddon”.
ALDE’s Sylvie Goulard (FR) said too many issues are being pushed toward 2018 because of the UK’s EU referendum and elections in other countries and that it bears the risk of losing control over the adjustment programmes.
GUE’s Dimitrios Papadimoulis criticised EPP leader Manfred Weber for his attack on Mr Tsipras: “He did not create the Greek debt. The Greek people voted for him and want to keep him as their Prime Minister.”
Green leader Philippe Lamberts (BE) said he did not share the optimism after yesterday’s euro group meeting on Greece: “The austerity of its creditors and the IMF is socially unacceptable. That’s too high a price to pay.”
Steven Woolfe (EFDD, UK) blamed the Eurogroup and the IMF for high unemployment and suicide rates in Greece and encouraged the Greeks “to leave the EU like the UK will do on 23 June.”
Marcel De Graaff (ENF, NL) said Greece is bankrupt and urged “to close the tap, to scrap the euro and return to the drachma”.