Greek Syriza government and European Union finalise more brutal austerity
1 April 2017
Greece’s Syriza-led government has reportedly reached an informal agreement with the European Commission (EC) on imposing further austerity measures. An agreement is yet to be officially confirmed by the EC—the executive arm of the European Union (EU)—or Greece.
Greek daily Kathemerini announced Friday, “[T]he framework for an agreement could be presented at the next scheduled Eurogroup meeting on April 7,” in order to “allow officials to draft all the measures that Greek MPs must legislate by the next scheduled Eurogroup on May 22…”
Various media reported this week that measures agreed include further crippling cuts to the pensions of 900,000 retirees, worth 1 percent of GDP. Another austerity measure is the reduction of the tax-free threshold to €5,900 from the current €8,636. This will result in many more poorly paid workers, earning as little as €500 a month, being forced to pay tax. The minimum wage in Greece remains at just €683 per month, as Syriza reneged on its pledge to restore it to what is a still paltry figure of €751.
The tax increases are worth a further 1 percent of GDP and, as with the pension cut revenue, will go towards paying off Greece’s near €300 billion debt to global financial institutions.
Syriza and the EU are set to adopt most of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) labour reform proposals, with the exception of collective dismissals. In addition, the privatisation of Greece’s energy sector is to be intensified with the sale of 40 percent of the Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) lignite and hydroelectric power plants, and Thessaloniki port.
Syriza and EU officials have been in talks for months as…