Meeting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels on Tuesday, Greek coalition government partner Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, stressed the need for immediate measures to halt the recession and unemployment in Greece.
In statements as he left the meeting with Barroso at the European Commission, Kouvelis said he’d expressed DIM.AR’s opposition to “the austerity policies destroying society and undermining the prospects of an exit from the economic crisis”. The party leader stressed that the only answer to the recession was to take immediate measures to kickstart the growth process.
Kouvelis said he had also emphasised the dire state of Greek society as a result of galloping unemployment and the need to take immediate steps to provide a social safety net, as well as a targeted reduction in taxes. Among these tax reductions, he suggested VAT on restaurant and catering services and taxes for heating oil.
DIM.AR’s leader asked Barroso to speed up and extend the transfer of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, their reorientation and an increase in the advance from the 2014-2020 support framework, as well as a more active role for the European Investment Bank.
Expressing the opinion that austerity policies and an increase of inequality within Europe will fuel centrifugal tendencies, a return to a narrow nationalist focus and greater strength to political extremes, Kouvelis stressed that Europe’s future prospects lay in a real economic and political unification.
Meeting with EuroParliament socialists’ group leader Swoboda
Kouvelis, speaking after his meeting head of the European Parliament’s Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Hannes Swoboda, stressed that “we must struggle for a Europe that forges ahead with its political and economic unification”.
“We had an extremely useful discussion with Mr. Swoboda on the issues affecting Europe, which must emerge from the recession, exit austerity and forge ahead with the peoples of Europe,” he said.
According to his aides, the meeting was held in a very good climate and there was broad agreement on the need to end austerity policies in Europe.
Swoboda noted that, while it was important for reforms to take place, people’s needs must also be taken into account, because only in this way could the reforms have the support of the citizens.
While in Brussels, DIM.AR’s president is also scheduled to meet Greece’s European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.