Over 100,000 people signed the Europe-wide petition calling for the cancellation of the Greek debt which was presented to Thomas Wieser, Chair of the Eurogroup Working Group in Brussels on November 4th 2015 The representatives of Jubilee Debt Campaign and Eurodad who met with Thomas Wieser made the following points:
- The petition is backed by a large coalition of concerned European citizen groups, (churches, trade unions, NGOs, social movements).
- It was initiated by Eurodad and the Jubilee Campaigns, organizations who advocate debt relief for countries in need for almost 30 years.
- Debt crises undermine development and impoverish people. The debt crises in developing countries since the 1980s and the Euro crisis are no different in this regard. We are concerned about the harmful impacts in Greece: economic recession, massive surge in poverty and unemployed, human rights violations such as reduced access to health supply.
- A sustainable solution to debt crises requires to actually get rid of the debt overhang. We had 20 years of “muddling through” (reschedulings etc) in developing countries before HIPC/MDRI finally allowed for substantial debt relief. After the lost decades, it was debt cancellation that made the “fresh start” for affected countries possible.
- Greece needs a fresh start too, this requires to clean the slate. This is also in the joint European interest.
- A Debt Audit Commission appointed by the Greek Parliament has recently found that many rules and laws have been violated, starting from the EU’s own no bailout clause, the IMF’s lending framework, and there was bribery and corruption related to the arms trade etc. This contributed to the debt problem we have now.
- It is obvious that Greece carries the burden of a bank bailout operation that was conducted to stabilize the European/international financial system in the midst of the last financial crises. Greece’s current debt burden is the legacy of this European/international operation, so it is unjust to put this burden on the Greek citizens alone. By writing off the outstanding loans, the creditor countries contribute their fair share. The costs should be recovered from the banks.
- We are aware that decision-making is not easy, as there is no automatism, no formal debt workout procedure, neither in the EU nor in the international financial architecture. The Eurogroup is obviously an informal political body composed of politicians concerned about their political survival.
- We therefore propose a European conference with a clear mandate to find a sustainable solution for the Euro crises that does not undermine affected countries’ future. The London Debt Conference/Accord of 1953 can serve as an example.
- A permanent debt workout procedure should be established on global level. The petition proposes the creation of fair rules under the auspices of the United Nations. A first set of “UN debt restructuring principles” has been adopted this September. Work will go on next year, it is in the EU’s own interest to engage constructively in this process.
Interested in hearing speakers and discussions on these issues? – Come to the free conference Life Before Debt – Organising to overcome the power of finance – Saturday November 14th, London. Full details here.