Michael Portillo on Greece’s ‘rigged’ finances when it joined the euro
Leading Eurocrats hailed the apparent “huge benefits” Athens has received since joining the bloc in 1981. But pundits and insiders fought back, insisting that membership in the EU’s single currency bloc has been extremely damaging for Greece. Yanis Varoufakis, who served as finance minister during the country’s debt crisis in 2015, said its economic growth in the 20 years leading up to EU membership had “outperformed the period 1981-2010”.
He added: “Public debt is skyrocketing after we joined the European Economic Community and, thereafter, think of the 2010-21 tragedy that followed.”
In 2015, Greece was forced to go through an extreme austerity program in order to secure a bailout after its finances got out of hand.
The EU, Germany and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to pump money into Athens’ struggling economy as long as it sticks to a series of deficit and spending targets.
At the time, Berlin even considered temporarily expelling Greece from the eurozone in order to save the rest of the currency area from collapse.
The applied tax rules created a lot of unease towards the EU among the Greeks, who were left to endure the massive cuts imposed on their government.
Yanis Varoufakis deplores Greece’s accession to the EU on the 40th anniversary of its membership of the bloc
Yanis Varoufakis is a former Greek Minister of Finance
Last night, European Council President Charles Michel paid tribute to Greece’s accession to the EU in an article posted on social media.
He said: “Since you, Greece, officially joined our common Europe, which has always been yours, you have had the best years in your history.
“They have definitely put you on the path to peace and prosperity. “
Mr. Michel was described as ignorant by Mr. Varoufakis, who replied: “Your ignorance of our history is forgiven.
“Why should you know, for example, that our growth rate was much higher and our democratization was deeper, before joining the EEC?”
President of the European Council Charles Michel
“It is the slavery of our Prime Minister, watching you speak, that will forever remain unforgivable.”
Speaking at an event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greece’s EU membership, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the decision to join the bloc had enriched both sides.
He said the country’s membership of the EU was a non-negotiable aspect of its identity.
In a video message, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The Union derives a huge advantage by having Greece at its core.”
She said Athens’ immunization program was “the envy of many other countries”.
MUST READ: Andrew Neil summarizes Dominic Cummings’ interview
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis
The Brussels boss also tried to highlight the many apparent advantages of EU membership enjoyed by Greeks, including free movement, large-scale investments and the resulting quality of life.
Pieter Cleppe, editor of the Brussels report website, said Greece’s decision to join the EU was a “good idea” but its euro zone membership was a “terrible idea” .
He told Express.co.uk: “For Greece it was a good idea to join the European Union, but it was a very bad idea to join the eurozone.
“The EU not only offered him a stable home in a family of Western democracies, the EU’s trade facilitation and the reduction of trade barriers also offered good economic opportunities.
“One downside however was the transfer of massive European funds which have encouraged cronyism in Greece for decades now. Better highways are a good thing, but not if they come at the expense of the corruption that hinders economic development. “
Brexit LIVE: US farmers issue warning over UK trade deal amid Australia dispute [UPDATES]
BBC Question Time guest denounces Eurovision after UK defeat [INSIGHT]
Two more months of lockdown! Senior expert warns UK not ready to reopen [VIDEO]
EU: Varoufakis discusses capitalism and democracy in 2016
Greek citizens, however, have suffered massively from Athens’ decision to join the EU’s single currency bloc, added Cleppe.
He said the move meant the Greeks were facing massive debts as a result of the move.
“Greece’s accession to the euro area, which is a serious mistake, must be seen as another big transfer from Northern Europe to Greece,” he said.
“The euro allowed the Greek government to survey Greek citizens with more debt than would have been possible with a national currency – due to the fact that Greek banks were able to receive liquidity from the European Central Bank and that the depreciation of the currency at the level of the euro zone can go much further than at the national level.
“In this way, euro area savers – most of whom reside in wealthier euro area member states – have been expropriated to finance the public spending of euro area governments.
“When the going got tough and the Greek state was no longer able to refinance its debt, taxpayers and once again savers were urged to bail out Greece with multibillion dollar bailouts. euros, both openly, through democratically approved emergency rescue funds, and covertly, through the actions of the European Central Bank.