Merkies: ‘Austerity agreement is poison pill for Greece’

18 August 2015

Merkies: ‘Austerity agreement is poison pill for Greece’

On Wednesday Parliament will debate the new loan agreement between the European Union and Greece. The SP will not be voting in favour of this agreement. ‘Once again the Greeks are being prescribed the bad medicine of inhuman austerity,’ says SP Member of Parliament and parliamentary spokesman on financial affairs Arnold Merkies. ‘This agreement is bad for Greece and bad for the Netherlands.’ We posed Merkies three questions on the accord.

The European Union and Greece have reached an agreement on fresh loans. Is that good news?

No, it isn’t an agreement which will help the Greek economy back on to its feet. It’s a continuation of the old troika policies of inhuman spending cuts and privatisations. It’s long been clear that these policies have failed, added to which the money that is to be lent to the Greeks is meant primarily to repay creditors such as the ECB and the IMF. A massive slice of this money will go directly to the Greek banks. In exchange for the loans unreasonable demands are being put on the Greek people, demands which will prove counterproductive. In short, this is no solution. Very shortly we’ll be back in Parliament talking about this same problem yet again.’

So you’ll be voting against the agreement? Wouldn’t that leave the Greeks in the lurch?

We will indeed be voting against the agreement. The medicine that the creditors have given to the Greeks turns out to be a poison pill, one whose results are widespread poverty and sky-high unemployment. It’s against this antisocial European politics that the Greeks voted in June en masse, saying ‘no’ in a referendum. Instead of carrying out a thorough new study of the drug, it was prescribed anew, and the dose was even raised. On top of the many spending cuts which have been carried out over the last few years, the EU is now demanding further deep cuts in social security and pensions. Fundamental labour rights are once again in jeopardy, including the right to strike and to collective wage bargaining. State-owned enterprises must be dumped en masse in a clearance sale. Moreover, unrealistic assumptions have been made about the yield from these privatisations.

What is the solution in the SP’s view?

The SP advocates a number of things, principally the restoration of the Greek economy through investment. The Greeks gain nothing from such a strangle-hold agreement, but rather need space. That means amongst other things that Greece must be given room to invest in the economy. So unreasonable demands must be dropped along with spending cuts which simply exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Greece. Instead, purchasing power must be boosted with intelligent investments. A rapid and social solution is also in the interest of all Dutch people. Because the sooner the Greek economy is restored to health, the sooner the country can repay its debts, including to the Netherlands.

Tackling corruption must be the priority along with a decent system of tax collection. Attacking tax evasion is going to need other countries’ help. The Netherlands should, furthermore, look into its own role. As things stand our country makes it possible for multinationals active in Greece to avoid taxes by setting up mailbox companies here. This is something which the government must bring to an immediate end.

You are here