The European Perspective - Greferendum

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The European Perspective - Greferendum
OXI - “No” - was the reply in the referendum on whether or not to accept the reform requirements of Greece’s creditors. Angela Merkel has travelled to Paris to discuss the way forward on Greece with François Hollande. Photo: © Fee Plumley / Flickr (Link) / CC BY 2.0 Lizenz

The outcome of the referendum in Greece is clear: they have said NO to the recent requirements of reform and austerity called for by their creditors in the EU, ECB and IMF. What are the implications of this vote for Greece and for the European Union more broadly?

A Pyrrhic victory for Tsipras

Marcel Wollscheid - Editor in Chief of

"The Greek people have rejected the latest austerity and reform regulations of an expired program. So much is clear after the referendum in Greece. Everything else seems to be in limbo - after the vote, more question marks than responses remain.

The Syriza government will initially emerge strong domestically from the referendum and return to negotiations with a broad chest.

But Alexis Tsipras will realize that not only Greece is a democracy - this also applies to the 27 other Member States of the European Union, who have kept Greece from financial collapse with loans of hundreds of billions Euros.

In this Union, it is inacceptable to accuse partners of “terrorism”. Varoufakis has resigned, but the trust that has been destroyed by this attitude in the past months will be missed in the upcoming talks. The negotiations for a possible third bailout program under the European Stability Mechanism ESM will be much more difficult.

Meanwhile, the financial situation in Greece escalates dramatically. The euro deposits of Greek banks are running out. The money that citizens withdrew from their bank accounts over the past few days will soon be exhausted. How long the government is able to spend their expenses in Euro is unclear. There is no legal basis for a Grexit. But factually, the economic logic could soon require a parallel currency. With bitter consequences for the Greek population.

The central question of the Greek crisis could not be answered by the referendum: Does Greece have the ownership to carry out fundamental structural reforms of its state and its economy in order to remain part of the Eurozone?

This question can only be answered by the Greek Government."

OXI, Mr Schäuble, resign!

Tobias Gerhard Schminke - Vice-Editor in Chief of

“Significantly, the Greek voters said”OXI" no. The Greeks are not against the European Union, not against the euroand not against further integration. In fact, the Greeks yesterday clearly stated No - despite massive fear of an euro exit(link in German) - namely to austerity.

This policy has failed fundamentally in its current form. Of course there is need for reform in Greece: the fight against corruption, a reduction in non-wage labour costs and a reduction of bureaucracy. The appropriate measures were introduced, but until the respective instruments operate it will still take years. Medium and short term investment and a massive haircut is needed rather than additional austerity measures, as it was also claimed by the International Monetary Fund.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble(CDU/EPP) can safely be regarded as the spearhead of misguided austerity. He seems no longer interested in fresh ideas in that issue or preventing a Grexit. This is exactly what must be the political objective. It’s time for a fresh start in the round of Euro Finance Ministers, which decides significantly about the future of Greece. A “Keep it up” with Varoufakis(SYRIZA/GUE-NGL) and Schäuble is humanly impossible, too. Varoufakishas made the right move, now it’s your turn Mr. Schäuble: Resign!"

A modern day Thermopylae:

Christopher Powers - Managing Editor of The New Federalist

"Like the battle which formed the inspiration for the movie 300, the Greeks who comprise 2.2% of the population of the EU, have made a stand. And what a stand it is! Our Union has suffered from collective historical amnesia about how disastrously stupid and ineffective austerity is such that people who call themselves Socialists urged Greeks to vote YES in yesterday’s referendum. The arch-conservatives of Merkel’s coalition have threatened Grexit as the outcome of a ‘NO’ vote as testament to how easy it is for people from the richest European country, a land that has been forgiven of more debt than anywhere else on Earth, how easy it is for them to fall into hypocrisy.

Austerity has served only to exacerbate and prolong Europe’s time in the economic doldrums. What financial ‘assistance’ has been given to Greece, has been used to bail out various (many German) creditors, as is the nature of our intergovernmental union. The result of people acting in their narrow national self-interests has been to provoke narrow-minded and nationalist-minded groups into appearing all over Europe’s political landscape. Austerity is the creed of kicking somebody when they’re already down, of anti-solidarity. You can take as your creed that all men are created equal, believe in liberté, égalité et fraternité, or even have that wild (and amazing) idea that it is through a Federal Europe that we can create peace and prosperity, and each and every one of these mantra is antithetical to support for austerity.

So, looking forward, those 300 need some backup if the European project is to avoid a similar fate to those men. We need to push beyond narrow national self interest, for the Federal Europe that JEFers have always asked for. We need to create a fiscal union, and as we Europeans did in 1953, we need to discuss and implement debt forgiveness followed by reforms to ensure this never happens again. Our Union made war a thing of the past, it now needs to show some humanity and make this economic mess a thing of the past too."

NB: All opinions in this article are those of the authors only and neither necessarily reflect on the official view of either The New Federalist or its parent organisation JEF Europe.

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