GUE/NGL MEPs have reacted angrily to Eurozone finance ministers’ decision to begin sanctions procedures against Spain and Portugal for breaching EU rules on budget deficits.

Commenting on the decision, Marisa Matias MEP (BE, Portugal) was in no doubt that her country’s own democracy is now under threat:

“This procedure has nothing to do with European rules and everything to do with the European authorities' intention to undermine the elected government and parliamentary majority of Portugal and to bring about good results with the policies that are being implemented.”

“After the Brexit vote and the failed austerity policies, the EU leadership now seems determined to destroy what’s left of the European project.”

“Stupidity has clearly become a policy in itself,” said Matias.

João Ferreira MEP (PCP, Portugal), meanwhile, expressed concerns for the people of Europe:

“ECOFIN's decision constitutes another step in the process of blackmail and external interference against Portugal and its people. It violates the rights and living conditions of our nation and is an affront to national sovereignty, democracy and the will of Portuguese people.”

“What's really at stake is political pressure – of which sanctions are an instrument – to again impose the policies that have caused and continue to cause so much suffering to our people,” said Ferreira.

“Today’s decision reaffirms the EU’s commitment towards the path that dragged the continent towards one of profound economic and social crises – and of which the political undertones are clear.”

“This blackmail process confirms that the Euro and its associated policies are truly working against the interests of the workers and the people of Europe,” he added.

For Marina Albiol MEP (Izquierda Plural, Spain), she has no doubt as to who is to blame for this:

“These cuts and possible sanctions that Brussels imposes will have a direct impact on the lives of working people – and Mariano Rajoy's government is responsible for this.”

“They are submissively applying these measures which constitute a fundamental part of the current EU model. They are also obsessed with deficit and regularly imposes anti-social measures upon us – even going against the democratic will of the people.”

“The consequences of all these sanctions will only deepen the social crisis and emergency situation that we‘re in,” she concluded.

Xabier Benito MEP (Podemos, Spain) also condemned the decision to impose sanctions which, in his opinion, underlined the hypocrisy of the richer, northern nations of the EU:

“Whilst large countries repeatedly violate official EU rules, they are punishing countries in southern Europe with those very same rules – rules which have already been used to impoverish them and will do so again with this decision.”

“The richest countries in the EU are clearly exploiting the institutional framework of the EU and the mechanisms to their own advantage such as labour division, market expansion – all the while condemning the periphery of Europe to a long recession and economic stagnation,” Benito argued.

“Spain’s deficit was caused by our national government turning a blind eye to the banking system – a government which has since championed job losses, wage devaluation and fiscal depression. Is it any wonder why our country has breached these deficit rules?” Benito asked.

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