Greece is being deliberately humiliated for daring to question austerity, Caroline Lucas says

Green MP says EU's response to the crisis shows how badly it needs to be reformed

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European authorities have set out to deliberately humiliate Greece for electing a left-wing anti-austerity Government, the Green Party’s MP has said.

Speaking at a Greece solidarity rally in London Caroline Lucas argued that the “deluded” policy coming out of the eurogroup was designed to punish the Syriza-led government.

“Austerity isn’t only socially destructive, as we know – it is economically deluded as well. Greece’s government debt to GDP ratio hasn’t gone down as austerity was imposed, it has increased,” she told a crowd in Trafalgar Square.

“This was never about supporting the people of Greece – it has always been about humiliating and defeating a government which has dared to stand up to the ideology of austerity.”

Successive centrist Greek governments have imposed harsh austerity measures as conditions of cash instalments to help Greece keep up interest payments on previous borrowing.

The policy has not been effective at reducing Greek debt levels, with the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio having grown from 133 per cent of GDP in early 2010 to 174 per cent today.

The vast majority of the Greek government’s deficit is now made up of payments on interest, and the new Syriza-led government says the country will not be able to return to a sustainable footing without some kind of write-off.

A number of countries in the eurogroup, including Germany and Finland, are blocking debt relief, however. They say their electorates would not accept such measures, which would involve financial losses.

 

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has called a referendum for this weekend on whether to accept a deal offered by Greece’s creditors. He recommends his electorate rejects it, but some fear that such a move could led to ejection from the eurozone.

Ms Lucas, a former party leader, who has represented Brighton Pavilion since 2010, said the eurogroup’s response to the crisis showed the EU desperately needed to change.

“For me this is not the EU that I want to campaign to stay in next year. I will be campaigning to stay in the EU, but it will be a reformed EU, an EU of the people, an EU of solidarity,” she said.

“The EU that is doing this in our name is not the EU that we will be campaigning for. Together we’ll have to say what kind of EU we want.”

She echoed a call by Europe's Green group for an international conference to forgive Greek debts, based on measures granted to Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War.

"We’re calling for a European conference along the lines of the London conference of 1953. That agreed a cancellation of debt for Germany, but they did it with the agreement of Greece back then," she said. "We should be repaying that solidarity today."

The Green Party supports a referendum on the European Union but has long argued the bloc should be reformed to be more democratic.

David Cameron has committed to holding an in-out referendum before the end of 2017 and is currently in the process of renegotiating terms of membership, with a focus on restricting freedom of movement and social security.

@joncstone

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