In this short address I want to convey to BUSINESSEUROPE the concerns prevailing in my country –a country in deep economic, political and social crisis. I have no hesitation in admitting that it was our mistakes, attitudes and conduct that put us in the present situation. But we mustn’t ignore the fact that
We also have to bear in mind that our society’s endurance and cohesion were both sorely tested by the manner in which this adaptation was achieved.
I dare say that in the initial phase, at least,
What’s more, from here on the necessary reforms will have to be more drastic, deeper, more structural. And the fact is that these reforms will not bring immediate results.
But their impact will be painful for a large portion of our society that has become accustomed to living under the protection –or the tolerance– of the patronage state. For those in this broad category, the great difficulty of adapting lies in having to change attitudes drastically, toppling anachronistic institutions and obsolete stereotypes.
Today, we need to forge new social alliances so that the citizens can consciously accept, embrace and adopt the changes rendered imperative by economic realities. During this time, we need to show consistency and firm commitment to achieving our difficult goals. And we will need the understanding of our partners.
Greece was the guinea pig for an EU caught by surprise, unprepared for crises like this. So the repercussions we are facing are not
The Greeks strove steadfastly to become equal members of the EU and the Eurozone, and with the same resolve they will fight to stay part of the European project; in spite of all resistance.
Our people are aware that
I continue to believe –and this is not just a matter of faith– that despite the problems and open fronts, my country’s efforts can succeed. Without question, this success also depends decisively on the help of the IMF and our partners. But this has also been the case for every country that has found itself in a similar position since the end of World War II. Against this background I find the criticism being levelled at
Allow me to elaborate on this last point …
Since its inception, the Eurozone has been strongly criticized for not having a mechanism for dealing with unforeseen critical events and asymmetrical economic shocks. The developments following the outbreak of the 2008 global economic crisis showed how well founded this criticism was, given that European cohesion, the euro itself and even the future of
The fact that
The time has come for us to be more daring, to think in terms of innovation, to plan with vision, so that we can give our institutions –like the Eurozone and the European Central Bank– the economic tools and the capabilities to meet the challenges of our time, with social cohesion as our primary concern.
In fact, the economic goals and the recipes for achieving those goals may be absolutely clear and objective; however the measures impact societies and have implications for the lives of people who are unwilling or unable to adapt to the pace imposed by economic rationale.
The simple truth is that the European states need to rid themselves of sterile national egoism and move ahead, as one, to thoroughgoing structural reforms to European institutions. Politicians and citizens need immediately a dynamic vision for the next phase in the evolution of the European dream.
Europe was a promise of convergence, growth and prosperity to its citizens. Today, the citizens of
We mustn’t forget that the convergence of European societies is a prerequisite for the real convergence of European economies.
But even more, let us reflect on our history, which shows that every time the European states chose the solitary path of national sovereignty, the result was disastrous. Personally, I believe that the EU’s choice is clear: it will either transform itself creatively or it will face both failure in the Euro pioneering project and a profound existential crisis.
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