European Council – Close of Work | Prime Minister’s statement

December 20, 2010 | categories : Articles and Statements, Prime Minister


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We started off 14 months ago, as a newly elected government, under very difficult conditions, and at a fast pace we diagnosed the magnitude of the crisis, put forward proposals, pursued European policies, and at the same time fought to re-establish the credibility and strength of Greece’s voice.

Greece once again became a trusted collocutor, and we managed this through hard systematic work. We new that the basic, root causes of the crisis in our country lay in attitudes and practices that needed to change. And that is what we are doing: changing Greece.

But from the outset we noted that we needed the necessary time, first, to implement the changes and, second, to convince people that our course was the right one. And this required joint cooperation in Europe, and in the eurozone in particular.

So, we convinced our European partners that the problem and the solutions concern us, but that they also bear on the broader functioning, the decisiveness, the support and coordination of our policies on a European level.

That is why we were successful with the support mechanism. It was and is a shield for the time we will need for these changes. That is, until we can stand on our own feet – without “borrowed” strength – which we are trying to be able to do as soon as possible.

This mechanism allows us to focus on making major changes in Greece, vital changes, so that our country can come out of this crisis strong again. Changes strengthening just governance, transparency and social justice.

These support mechanisms ensure that we have the necessary lending, given that the markets are still guarded and – due to the broader crisis – hesitant. In fact, due to our participation in the single currency, the euro, this mechanism also ensures stability in the eurozone – the stability of the euro – as well as in the European Union.

This is why we identified and stressed the need for strong economic governance in the European Union, with the first step being the setting up of a permanent support mechanism that will effectively confront similar crises in EU member states. That is, member states that – from time to time, and due to broader insecurity in the global market – may have serious financial problems.

And, in this way, to keep the economy of a given member state and European cohesion out of jeopardy. And to deal with rumors – which circulate easily and function as self-fulfilling prophecies in the market – regarding the fall of the eurozone and many other things, including that Europe does not have the will or the ability to deal with such circumstances if they exist.

I think that the painful experience of this crisis is an opportunity. Not just for Greece to put its finances in order and come out as a stronger country with a stronger voice. It is also an opportunity for the European Union. An opportunity to take a new, big step in the integration of the European Union, in economic governance and the strengthening of the euro.

This was and is our stance. It is the Greek stance. With this stance, we are contributing pioneering proposals. Mechanisms are being created that will strengthen confidence both inside and outside the European Union. Europe is taking an important new step today.

The institutionalization of the permanent European support mechanism will ensure the financial stability of the eurozone as a whole. It will help accelerate the structural reforms and boost growth. This is a decision of the 27 member states and the institutions of the EU. It is an important decision, the implementation of which is a critical link in stability, the creation of jobs and transforming Europe into a sustainable and competitive economy.

This decision we have taken ensures the availability of adequate financial stability and funding for existing and future mechanisms. The amendment of the Treaty is bringing about a positive institutional shift that firmly establishes all of the above.

These decisions send a strong and convincing message to everyone. A message that the European Union is determined and has all of the necessary preventive tools and tools to ensure the stability of the eurozone and our economies. This is our decision.

This decision is expressly stated in the Council’s conclusions. And this decision is the cornerstone for all of the coming economic policy developments. I would like to underscore a few important points in this decision.

One point is in the introduction, regarding the measures we are taking. It says that the European Union will do whatever is necessary to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. It welcomes the impressive progress made in the implementation of the Greek programme and talks about confronting excessive deficits in all of the member states, as well as about reforms that will boost economic growth.

It guarantees the availability of adequate funding support for the existing and new mechanism, the further strengthening of the banking financial system – by the European Union, that is – and support for the activities of the European Central Bank, which, as you know, has played an important role, intervening in markets, wherever necessary, for the bonds of many member states.

Through these decisions, we supported and achieved – together with our partners – everything we needed for stability, as well as the undertaking of new actions and initiatives in new directions, including, for example, green development. And within this framework we welcome the results in Cancun, where we, the European Union, played a decisive role in the Climate Change Conference.

The European Union is a frontrunner on green and clean energy and on climate change issues. We want to put Greece at the avant-garde of this “green revolution”. And we want to do this by exploiting the means at our disposal, investing in our human resources and creating new tools for dealing with the negative repercussions of the recession and the economic crisis we are facing today. We want to do this to create sustainable and human growth with quality jobs for young people and with improved quality of life for citizens.

The Greek proposal falls within this framework. The proposal that has been taken up and adopted by everyone, for the issuing of Eurobonds to be added to the means we will use to bring about real growth in the European Union.

Other, similar proposals have also been submitted, including a tax on carbon dioxide, or a tax on stock exchange transactions as a source of revenue for the EU and for funding growth.

This dialogue has started in society, in the parliaments, in the media, throughout Europe. The Eurobond debate comes following the very positive results we have already achieved as the European Union. The Eurobond debate is a challenge for further deepening of cooperation and coordination among the members and institutions of the Union.

A deepening of European integration that will be a guarantee for our future, for our international power, for our principles and values of democracy and social justice, for our security, and for the prosperity of our citizens.

At this critical turn of events, the European Council took vital decisions that just a few months ago seemed beyond our reach. The edifice that is the European Union is not stopping. It is continuing on its way, and Greece will be at the forefront.

Our government will be present everywhere, supporting our common interests and vision. Today, however, new and important foundations were laid for the strengthening and cohesion of our common family, and for ensuring the interests of the Greek people.