Foreign minister rules out stop of support for Greece

Austrian Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger has promised that the European Union (EU) will not let Greece down.

The head of the People’s Party (ÖVP) said there was no alternative to helping Greece in its current situation. The member state of the EU and the Eurozone is in a serious political crisis after the leaders of the country’s strongest parties failed to agree on a government coalition. New elections will be held next month.

Polls show that factions which strictly oppose the stability and reform pact the state’s previous government agreed on with the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), could win the ballot.

Spindelegger explained there was an inhibition level concerning a departure of Greece from the Eurozone or the EU. “The European Union has no revolving door,” the Austrian foreign minister said.

Othmar Karas, who heads the ÖVP’s delegation in the European Parliament (EP), said regarding the worsening condition of the Greek economy: “California has a higher deficit than Greece but no one considers a departure from the USA or the US dollar a solution. You will solve no problems by ordering the problem child to leave home.”

The former general secretary of the ÖVP added: “Greece is in charge of slightly more than two per cent of the Eurozone’s economic performance and we do not trust in ourselves to find a common solution? This is not how a community functions in my opinion.”

Spindelegger and Karas might agree that Greece must not be forced to leave the Eurozone despite its dismal economic and difficult political condition – but this consensus cannot disguise their differentiating points of view about other significant issues.

Spindelegger was criticised by Karas for suggesting to increase the influence of the EU member countries’ national parliaments. The vice chancellor argued: “We need more control by the national parliaments.”

Karas warned from a growth of nationalist tendencies as a consequence. He also expressed concerns about inefficiency. Karas said the federal parliaments of the EU-27 “often struggle to fulfil their national duties”.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Austrian Society for European Policies (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik, ÖGfE) shows that 60 per cent of Austrians – who are, according to several previously carried out researches, more sceptical towards the EU than people from most other member states – want to elect the next president of the European Commission (EC) in a direct ballot. The EC is currently headed by former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Barroso.

Spindelegger said he would support such a reform of electoral regulations. Only yesterday (Thurs), German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble disclosed that he had the same opinion. Schäuble said such changes might help to increase people’s interest in political developments in Europe. The former German interior minister appealed that “more Europe” was needed to getting closer in solving the tasks the crisis posed to political leaders and citizens.