In view of the on-going negotiations on Greek debt after SYRIZA's  electoral victory in January, GUE/NGL organised a conference titled “Greece, Austerity and Growth” on Wednesday 22 April, 2015 at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The neo-liberal policies used to tackle the economic crisis in the European periphery have proved to be counter-productive: they have failed to overcome the crisis and to lead to growth and development and they also caused a severe humanitarian crisis with immense social and political consequences.

GUE/NGL invited economists, experts and MEPs from other political groups such as the Greens and S&D to discuss the necessary reforms that Greece needs to take and also how Europe needs to change tack and turn away from austerity and move towards growth and development.

Opening the conference, GUE/NGL Group President Gabi Zimmer said: “The issue of today's conference is not only about Greece, it is about the future of Europe.” She added: “I believe that the Greek Government does not have a choice but to deliver on what they promised  in order to keep their dignity.”

EP Vice-President Dimitrios Papadimoulis spoke about the debt issue: “We need additional initiatives at a European level so that the Greek debt can become sustainable and payable. The left group in the European Parliament took the initiative to discuss the need for Greece to change course from unilateral austerity to growth.” The GUE/NGL MEP added: “Give Greece a chance to grow”.

GUE/NGL Vice-Chair Malin Bjork said: “We have a lot to learn from SYRIZA and its struggles in being part of the Greek government.” The Swedish MEP also quoted Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, as saying: “The economic model of the Eurozone has to change as well as public opinion about it.”

In conclusion, Neoklis Sylikiotis, Vice-Chair of GUE/NGL wrapped up the conference claiming that: “Doctors in Greece say that people are dying because they do not have access to health care.” He added: “Our role as the GUE/NGL group is to explain to the European people exactly what the reality is in Greece.”

Amongst the  guests that participated in the hearing were Philippe Legrain, Visiting Senior Fellow at the European Institute of the London School of Economics, and Cinzia Alcidi, Head of Economic Policy Unit at the Centre for European Policy Studies. Italian MEP Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the S&D also attended the conference, while German MEP Ska Keller was invited and took the floor on behalf of the Greens.

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