Petition on behalf of the citizens of Europe

To: EU Heads of Government

Re: Negotiations with Greek Government

[ENGLISH]

We request that the EU Heads of Government, acting on the mandate of their respective sovereign states, act with respect and with responsibility in the current negotiations on behalf of all the citizens of Europe in regard to the Greek people, their Government and its representatives, to ensure that Greece is able to develop and implement policies

  • to achieve decent jobs with decent wages for both women and men,
  • for structural change,
  • for sustainable development, and,
  • to promote a caring society for both the young and elderly,

and in a way that protects the continuing progress towards a united Europe, the welfare and the future of the people whom they represent, and thereby put the Rights of European Citizens before the Power of Wealth.

[GAEILGE]

Táimid ag iarraidh ar Cheannairí Rialtais an AE, agus iad ag déanamh ionadaíochta thar ceann a stáit cheannasaigh faoi seach, glacadh le cúram agus le freagracht san idirbheartaíocht reatha ar son gach saoránach Eorpach maidir le muintir na Gréige, lena Rialtas agus lena chuid ionadaithe, lena chinntiú go bhfuil an Ghréig in ann beartaíocht a chothú agus a chur i bhfeidhm

  • obair chóir ar thuarastal maith a sholáthar do mhná agus d'fhir araon,
  • le haghaidh athrú struchtúrach,
  • le haghaidh fhorbarha inbhuanaithe, agus,
  • chun sochaí a chur chun cinn a dhéanann cúram ar an óige agus ar an scothaosta,

agus í ar shlí ina ndéantar cosaint ar dul chun cinn leanúnach i dtreo Eorpa aontaithe, ar leas agus ar saol amach anseo na ndaoine faoina gcúram, agus ar an gcaoi sin go gcuirfí Cearta na Saoránach Eorpach thar Cumhacht an tSaibhris.

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Background

Two crises are being played out in this confrontation between the Troika (comprising EU, ECB, and IMF) and the Greek government. The crises are different aspects of the same coin. One issue is economic and is central to the neo-liberal strategy of austerity. It can be summarised as: fiscal policy has to follow the rules and debt has to be serviced. This regime wants economic policies to follow strict rules because it distrusts democratic decision-making. The second issue is that all attempts at dissidence must be suppressed to ensure that a flawed Euro-zone system is implemented without question. The Troika fears that political and financial contagion will mutually reinforce one another in the medium term as more questions are asked bout the legitimacy of the so-called bail-out programme.

It is wrong to ask Greece to commit itself to a continuation of the previous programme that has demonstrably failed. It has been rejected by the Greek electorate. Large numbers of economists worldwide believe that the programme was misguided from the start. The Truth Commission on the Greek Debt, a citizen initiative with the support of the Greek Parliament, in a recent report provides evidence that the debt demanded today from Greece is “illegitimate, unsustainable, illegal, and odious”. Almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has been channeled back to pay private-sector creditors - including French and German Banks.

The bail-out was not directed to save Greece, but to off-load the exposure of French and German banks onto all the European states. The programme was implemented against the advice of the IMF’s own staff. The Greek people believe that the bill for this debt must eventually be laid at the doorstep of the French and German banks; until then the people of Greece have the right to refuse to pay that debt.

Current negotiations 
The players, their roles, and their motivations

From the beginning the Greek government identified clearly that the deep spending cuts demanded by the Troika had caused a humanitarian crisis in Greece and this was not acceptable. They wished to put the emphasis on negotiating achievable targets for the the primary surplus, and then on debt relief to head off endless future crises. The IMF believes that spending cuts are a more effective form of retrenchment than tax increases. Spending cuts can be controlled by central government but tax increases are less predictable and take longer to deliver.

The Troika (EU/ECB/IMF), as creditors, keep rejecting Greek proposals on the grounds that they rely too much on taxes and not enough on spending cuts. They do not apparently accept that the austerity programme has done huge damage and they are unwilling to change that strategy. It appears that they are willing to drive Greece into a disastrous default and by so doing, “wave the big stick” at other EU states that might show signs of weakening. How Greece is treated today will send a clear message to all its euro-zone partners.

What can individual citizens do? The actions of the Greek government in engaging in an ongoing dialogue with their electorate, together with the proposed referendum on the deal proposed with the Troika, is a clear move towards participative democracy. In most EU countries, the system of representative democracy, where after election, the representatives are mandated to act on behalf of the electorate and do generally do so without any formal reference to the electorate. Individual citizens need a mechanism that will enable ongoing interaction with the decision-making process of government. We now have the technology available to enable us to do that. We just need governments to engage with the electorate on an ongoing basis. This will enable the voice of the individual European citizen to be heard around cabinet and committee tables in the governments of Europe.

Summaries and references

Please click on the button below to see a list of the sources consulted, with summaries of key points, and links to original documents. This will be updated regularly as the crisis develops and unfolds.

What next?

The component institutions of the Troika arenot democratic, representative, organisations. They are not answerable to the electorate. For that reason, the most senior democratic group is represented by the EU Heads of State. They have an important role in this debt crisis and they must be seen to act responsibly on behalf of the people of Europe, in general, and of Greece, in particular.

Default is inevitable without a revised, longer-term agreement with the creditor institutions. It is certain that default will impose great risks on the economies of Europe. Even the entire European project that the euro-zone was supposed to strengthen will be under threat. Various commentators and contributors to the debate have identified a number of key factors that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. In brief, these are:

  • Fiscal policy needs to be more flexible so that deficits can be run in recession-hit countries. It is also necessary to ensure that the rich pay proportionate taxes.
  • A coherent monetary policy that supports job creation is needed. There is a separation, however, between fiscal policy (at national level) and monetary policy (at EU level) and this is alleged by some commentators to be partly responsible for the debt crisis.
  • European integration aimed at creating a competitive economy but it has not resulted in wealth “trickling down”. The quest for competitiveness is encouraging a race to the bottom, as wages are the main source of consumption demand. If wages continue falling how is that going to stimulate consumption?

What can individual citizens do? The actions of the Greek government in engaging in an ongoing dialogue with their electorate, together with the proposed referendum on the deal proposed with the Troika, is a clear move towards participative democracy. In most EU countries, the system of representative democracy, where after election, the representatives are mandated to act on behalf of the electorate and do generally do so without any formal reference to the electorate. Individual citizens need a mechanism that will enable ongoing interaction with the decision-making process of government. We now have the technology available to enable us to do that. We just need governments to engage with the electorate on an ongoing basis. This will enable the voice of the individual European citizen to be heard around cabinet and committee tables in the governments of Europe.