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Alternate Foreign Minister G. Katrougalos' speech at the conference on "The Future of Europe"
Europe is currently disappointing its peoples because the austerity policies it is implementing favour the few, are exhausting the workers and the middle class, and are dismantling the welfare state. For Europe to be saved, economic governance has to become more democratic, and wealth redistribution and welfare state mechanisms have to be restored, Alternate Foreign Minister G. Katrougalos stressed, speaking at today's conference – hosted by the Foreign Ministry, under the auspices of the President of the Republic – on the Future of Europe.
It would be hypocritical, Mr. Katrougalos said, for one to attribute the lack of confidence in the European plan only to the negative repercussions of globalisation. Globalisation, in any case, is not a natural phenomenon. Globalisation is a combination of economic, political and social processes that can be faced through a different policy mix. Neoliberalism is not the only path.
We need to admit, Mr. Katrougalos stated, that the European response to the crisis was not what it should have been. It weakened the welfare state, leaving the most vulnerable citizens unprotected. And this was done without the improvement of overall economic performance. The opposite was the case. The austerity policies in Europe generated much worse results than the expansionary policies of President Obama, not just in terms of economic growth, but also with regard to job creation and social cohesion.
If the European dream is to survive, we have to abandon the business-as-usual mindset. Europe will either recover its social face or cease to exist. On the other hand, the policy of concentric circles and closed clubs of the powerful would dissolve the European Union that much sooner, Mr. Katrougalos concluded. To this end, the Greek government is in favour of the Europe of many choices, so that the social and democratic dimension of European integration can be strengthened within the provisions of the Treaties and based on the criterion of political agreement on deepening, beyond any exclusion-based mindset.
In this context, the Alternate Foreign Minister presented a number of substantiated and innovative proposals, among which is support of a new European Pillar of Social Rights that will include the setting of a European minimum wage, a European programme of social insurance against unemployment, the reshaping of the European Support Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund, and more direct involvement of the European Parliament and national parliaments in the European Semester.