“The failure of the European Union to give democratic and functional solutions to the present challenges will unavoidably lead to the triumph of chauvinism and an increase in nationalist conflicts,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned on Tuesday.
Speaking to European lawmakers in Strasbourg during a debate on the future of the bloc, the leftist premier accused the European Union of undermining unity and the democratic process. Instead of “becoming more democratic through the use of institutional framework of the Treaty of Lisbon” during the financial crisis, “decisions were taken behind closed doors by informal bodies that do not answer to the citizens and we had technocratic institutions like the troika who held the keys of economic sovereignty and did not have to answer to anybody,” Tsipras said.
The European Commission, the European Parliament and even the European Council “played a secondary role” to bodies that do not have an “institutional capacity” like the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Greek prime minister said. He also accused the troika of “fiscal fetishism,” which exacerbated economic and social inequalities both between member-states and within them.
“Ultimately it is the failure of this neo-liberal handling of the crisis that is feeding the monster of chauvinism and far-right populism. It brought the far right from history's defendants' dock and isolation to the front of the political stage,” Tsipras said.
The Greek prime minister was also critical of the European Union with regards to the refugee crisis, saying it “confirmed Europe's inability to go forward when a large part of its member-states do not embrace its founding principles, when isolationism prevails over cooperation.”
The challenge right now, Tsipras said, is not just the rising popularity of far-right populism at the ballot box, but also the “penetration of its xenophobic and chauvinist agenda inside the democratic political spectrum.”
It is the “dominance of racist and xenophobic” discourse in “traditional conservative political forces” that threatens Europe with “dissolution,” the Greek prime minister warned.