While it was not on the formal agenda at the European Parliament, Greece’s current financial plight continued to dominate discussions in Strasbourg. Some leaders questioned the strict conditions being placed on Athens by international lenders.
The head of the parliament’s left-leaning Social Democrat group Hannes Swoboda said: “If you go only for austerity, you cannot reduce the deficit, you may even enlarge the deficit, that is our criticism, and it’s blackmail, because there was no real negotiation between Greece and the troika. Of course, reforms are necessary, but I think the troika’s demands are the wrong reforms.”
The co-leader of the parliament’s Green group, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, believes more investment in Greece is needed now, to help kick start the country’s rapidly shrinking economy.
“We need a plan to help Greek companies and we need to try to coordinate this with the Greek government. We need to find the right structures so any investment does not go down the pan if there’s a meltdown.’‘
The latest economic data from Greece shows the Greek economy contracted by seven percent in the last quarter.