NEWS

Greece in favor of EU treaty change

Greece yesterday joined the group of countries that is in favor of rewriting the European Union’s central treaty so a permanent mechanism can be set up to support member states that run into serious financial problems. At a tense meeting of EU leaders in Brussels yesterday, Prime Minister George Papandreou said that his government would back plans to amend the Lisbon Treaty so a financial backup system could be created. «From the moment the debt crisis struck our country and we suffered attacks from the financial markets, we submitted our proposals for a strong EU support mechanism,» he said. «Today, we are discussing exactly this great institutional project.» France and Germany upset some of the other EU members last week when they formed a united front to propose a change to the Lisbon Treaty, which took eight years to negotiate and only became law 10 months ago. Under the Franco-German scheme, the emergency mechanism would be accompanied by the imposition of sanctions, including the suspension of voting rights, on countries that do not comply with the public debt and deficit limits set by the Union’s Stability and Growth Pact. Germany has indicated that there is no way it would approve a new package of stricter budget rules unless voting sanctions are included. Papandreou, however, said that Greece does not approve of this part of the plan. «We think that there are already enough sanctions in the Lisbon Treaty,» he said. «They can be strengthened but the withdrawal of voting rights is something that we are against.» EU leaders are due to conclude their summit today and Papandreou said that he wants to ensure that the new budget rules would not just focus on stability but would also encourage growth «that creates jobs and makes the EU competitive through green development,» he said.