Greek crisis: ‘Reckless political games’ cause of deadlock

Crisis accentuates policy differences between political groups in European Parliament

French EPP President Joseph Daul aat a European People’s Party meeting. He said: “no other country” has advanced without implementing structural reforms, as he criticised Syriza’s “political gambling.” Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

French EPP President Joseph Daul aat a European People’s Party meeting. He said: “no other country” has advanced without implementing structural reforms, as he criticised Syriza’s “political gambling.” Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

 

The Greek crisis has accentuated policy differences between the political groups in the European Parliament, as the main political groupings try to forge a cohesive response to the impasse.

Speaking after the meeting of finance ministers of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in Brussels, the head of the EPP blamed “reckless political games” as one of the main causes of the deadlock.

As has become customary, euro zone finance ministers of the centre-right political group, including Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, met ahead of yesterday’s emergency eurogroup meeting in Brussels.

In a statement released after the meeting, EPP president Joseph Daul said that “no other country” has advanced without implementing structural reforms, as he criticised Syriza’s “political gambling.”

Greece needs a sustainable economy investors can trust, but for this, it first needs a trustworthy government,” he said.

His comments were echoed by the EPP’s most senior MEP, German Christian Democratic Union politician Manfred Weber, who told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that all European countries needed to implement reforms. “If Europe is not willing to carry out reforms, this continent has no future . . . Solidarity is important, democracy is important, but we have also rules to be complied with.”

The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group which counts the ruling French and Italian government parties as members, yesterday called on negotiators from both sides to “build bridges” to try and strike a deal, but even the centre-left group has criticised the negotiating strategy of the Greek government.

French president François Hollande, and to a lesser extent his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi, have called on Greece’s creditors to reach an accommodation with Greece over the next few days. Both countries have in the past openly questioned the European Commission’s rules on fiscal targets and debt and deficit rules.

In a surprise move, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras confirmed he is to address the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg today.

He had initially declined a request from the head of the liberal group in the parliament, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (Alde), to appear but confirmed yesterday that he would address MEPs at their plenary session. Alde’s Guy Verhofstadt welcomed the Greek prime minister’s change of mind. “The fate of the Greek citizens and the EU is at stake,” he tweeted.