Europe is not defending its own accomplishments, its heritage and social model and has surrendered to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which explains its existential crisis, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday evening, addressing an event organized by the Transform! Europe network, in Rome’s “La Sapienza” University.
“We are at a critical moment because these days Greece is on the front line of a battle that concerns all of Europe. We are fighting to restore collective labour agreements in our country, to end the exemption status now and once and for all in the future,” he said.
Continuing his speech at the event titled “A Europe for the People and by the People”, he said this is the reason his government didn’t give up two years ago, because it knew it would have the opportunity to fight for the rights of the social majority from a better position “and now we have this position”.
He warned that Europe today has become almost exclusively an area of austerity, of deregulation of social and labour rights and of closed borders for political refugees and migrants. “Neoliberalism has almost devoured Europe,” he said, adding that “it’s the neoliberal management of the economic crisis that augmented the existing inequalities and asymmetries within our countries and between them. It took the form of a systemic attack of the capital against labour,” he explained.
Beyond the widening of the gap between the European North and South, the crisis also deepened the divisions in Europe through aggressive and irrational stereotypes. “Thankfully it is few [people] who want to hide the economic inequality caused by neoliberalism behind a non-existent cultural division. They do it by resorting to ridiculous stereotypes and prejudiced rhetoric of a ‘prudent North’ and an ‘irresponsible South’,” he said.
He then openly criticized Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem for his recent comments about debt-ridden nations wasting money on “booze and women”.
“When budget deficits are high, the euro area requires action to reduce public spending. Therefore, shouldn’t Mr. Dijsselbloem, instead making foolish and sexist comments on ‘booze and women’ ask Germany to increase public spending, given its high current account surpluses?” he asked.