'Greece is in the right hands, Europe is in the wrong hands'


03 Mar 2011


Euro & Finance

Press release

Statement in advance of PES leaders meeting Athens 4-5 March 2011
by PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

The Party of European Socialists (PES) Leaders will meet in Athens this Friday and Saturday. The agenda is of profound importance. The central topic is how we wish the European Union to discuss, define and implement its economic governance. Our priority in the PES, is to advocate in as strong a way as possible, that this is done in an economically credible, and socially responsible way.

I am proud to co-host our leaders meeting with my good friend, George Papandreou. Over the last year, under incredibly trying circumstances, George has shown what true political leadership is all about. He has brought Greece back on track after years of devastating Conservative Government. Despite being under enormous global scrutiny, he has kept to a path defined by clear goals and strong principles. As Prime Minister of Greece, he has been unwavering in his focus. That focus is the long term interest of the Greek people. Destructive policy choices from the earlier Conservative Government have made it necessary to introduce tough cuts. But George is also engaged in large-scale structural reforms that will ensure that Greece will grow again, creating thousands of new jobs and protecting the poorest in society. This is socially responsible.

This aim is contrasted with the measures that are being advocated at European level by the Conservative majority. On the one hand, Greece is implementing tough measures so that in the future the principle of universal protection and a strong social system can be maintained. On the other hand, at European level, Conservative ideologues are using the aftershocks of the financial crisis as an excuse to do lasting damage to Europe’s social models. This distinction between the two aims is also the difference between the European Progressive and the European Conservative way. Greece is in the right hands, Europe is in the wrong hands.

The Conservative majority in Europe with their initial proposals for an euphemistically named ‘competitiveness pact’, intended to outlined a direction that would have dire consequences for Europe’s people. It is a direction based on low wages, precarious conditions, long hours and years, and all for the dubious prize of continued sluggish growth. It is a direction that, at the same time, opposes new and immediate sources of European financing to fund the robust growth that Greece and Europe need in the midst of fiscal consolidation and that does almost nothing to address Europe's debt crisis. They have been supported in these efforts by the European Commission, which has unilaterally imposed its ‘Annual Growth Survey’ on EU capitals. This document is little more that a ‘charter for regression’.

In Athens, the PES will outline a clear responsible alternative that will echo the work already done by George Papandreou. We will outline a balanced, measured approach that will bring these ideas and vision to the European level.

George has stood tall despite pressure from the Conservative dominated European Council, the Commission and the IMF. In our meeting in Athens, the PES is resolved to the principle that such a need to stand alone must never be repeated. Our aim is to reintroduce the ideals of solidarity and coordination to the European level.


For further information please contact Brian Synnott on +32 474 98 96 75 (brian.synnott@pes.org)

The PES brings together 33 socialist, social democratic, labour and progressive parties in the European Union and Norway, a parliamentary group in the European Parliament (184 MEPs) and in the Committee of the Regions (247 members) - plus observer and associate parties and organizations from all over Europe. ECOSY and PES Women are respectively the Youth and the Women's organizations of the PES.