At the Eurogroup meeting on Friday, 24 April, all eyes were on Greece. The embattled Eurozone country got hammered for backtracking on much needed fiscal reforms. Eurogroup officials stated that such measures are vital in helping the Greek government secure its debt repayments. Without the remaining €7.2 billion in the bailout package, Greece will run out of money in a matter of weeks. The stark warning came as Mr. Varoufakis, Greece’s Finance Minister, tried to calm fears over his country’s ability to raise
Starting from the recent Tsipras – Rajoy war of words, on who sabotages whom at the Eurogroup and in electoral politics, I attempt to put together evidence that shows a major shift in European politics. Building also on an increasing number of satirical videos about European politics, and from my personal experience, I reach an anecdotal, not so scientific but most probably correct conclusion: We are getting a European demos, in which we all feel comfortable enough and are knowledgeable enough about each other to be able to make jokes, break the ice, get on each other’s nerves occasionally, but basically express what we increasingly realize that we are: a diverse, noisy, funny, stubborn, intrusive and generous section of humanity that one could call “the Europeans”.
An agreement on the Greek bailout programme was initially supposed to be reached at the Eurogroup meeting of 11 February. As the finance ministers gathered it became clear that arriving at decisions would not be a matter that would be resolved in a day. Greece and its creditors could not even agree to a common press release
After a week of non-stop meetings by the Greek Prime Minister and his Finance Minister, Messrs Tsipras and Varoufakis, an apparent rift exists between Greece and Germany. With the ECB’s action to cut off the Greek banks from the ESM and instead use the ELA mechanism for liquidity, and Jeroen Dijselbloem’s outright rejection of a ‘bridge loan’, the situation is now at a standstill. While Greece sees the first demonstrations in support of its government, the current bailout programme ends on 28 February and Grexit re-enters the public discourse.
The press conference that followed the meeting of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem captured the attention of the European public. It was a media performance on both sides. Varoufakis drew his government’s hard lines and stated that they would no longer negotiate with the troika. Instead he put forward the demand for a conference to discuss debt relief. Deiselbloem’s performance of the infuriated eurocrat was out of protocol and has been largely understood as colonial by the Greek public. In a later communication with the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Dijsselbloem referred to the episode as a misunderstanding.