However spectacular the developments in Greece’s diplomacy, politics and economy these past few days – with the signing of an agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the firestorm that this has provoked, as well as the talks on debt reduction – perhaps the most important news item was the agreement between Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron aimed at making the eurozone more functional and opening a new chapter in the European Union’s progress.
Aside from the many important measures that the two leaders proposed, their decision to move ahead with a bilateral agreement that will be negotiated further with other member-states is a crucial investment in the future of Europe – at a moment when the EU is facing many dangers within its borders and abroad.
The determination of the German chancellor and the French president can only be positive for Greece, as long as our country is in a position to take part in developments. Economic growth will only be achieved in a climate of stability and security that a strong Union can provide.
Greece can benefit from measures that include drafting a eurozone budget, convergence in various sectors (such as corporate taxes), macroeconomic stability and mechanisms for supporting countries in trouble, a banking union, a Europe-wide unemployment insurance system, as well as integrated policies on security, immigration and crisis management.
The meeting on Tuesday at Meseberg near Berlin was held despite the problems that Merkel faces with her conservative allies in the government because of mass immigration. Fortunately, the chancellor is convinced that the only solution to major problems is closer cooperation between EU member-states; she seems prepared to ignore the voices opposed to anything that might suggest the EU becoming a transfer union.
Merkel’s position at home will be decided in the coming weeks, in line with the domestic debate. But when the foundations of the global system of governance have been shaken, when extremists in Europe are sowing division and despair, when the dangers on Europe’s borders multiply, then the reinforcement of the EU becomes an urgent priority for all.
It is crucial that Greek society understand that the Union’s survival is a precondition for our country’s future. We, like all other member-states, must ensure that we are part of the discussion and part of the solution.