European People's Party
Over the past five years, the economic, financial and fiscal crisis has confronted the European Union with one of its greatest ever challenges. The EU did not cause the crisis, which was the result of mismanagement of public finances by national governments, irresponsible behaviour in financial markets, and also problems originating outside Europe. But the crisis has demonstrated the need for increased economic cooperation at European level and for stronger governance in the European Union. The EPP political family has played a major role in establishing new tools to strengthen economic governance. Unlike the Parliament’s Left, the EPP Group’s main goal was to prevent a sovereign debt crisis from happening again, and so it worked ceaselessly to establish a sound and sustainable economic and fiscal framework in the EU.
Since 2008, the EPP political family, which has been in government in a majority of EU Member States, has acted quickly to counter the crisis by initiating concrete measures. These include financial assistance to countries facing exceptional circumstances to avoid the risk of default on Member States’ debt, as well as long-term steps to decisively reduce over-indebtedness and increase surveillance of Member States’ economic and fiscal policies. The EPP Group took a leading role in drafting and pushing for eight crucial pieces of legislation that were adopted in two sets of measures - the so-called 'Six-Pack', which applies to all EU Member States, and the 'Two-Pack', applicable to eurozone members only. Aimed at strengthening economic policy coordination and preventing future debt crises, these new tools establish a sound and sustainable economic and fiscal framework. The EPP Group was the driving force in shaping both legislative packages in the face of attempts by the European Parliament's Left to weaken rules on economic and budgetary discipline. A major outcome of this political success is that surveillance procedures are now even tougher than originally proposed by the Commission. In addition, the EPP Group consistently supported action taken to safeguard the euro as well as the adoption of the Fiscal Compact (Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, which was negotiated under the initiative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and entered into force on January 1st, 2013). Both measures were crucial in rebuilding the stability and the international reputation of the eurozone. The eurozone has not only withstood this pressure, but even grown from 17 to 18 members at the beginning of 2014.
Free movement of people within the EU is a great achievement, not only in terms of freedom but also in terms of security: having abolished internal borders gives us a tightened control over the common external borders through the Schengen policy. We have to reinforce the cooperation between EU countries on border management, to show solidarity with countries that are on the front line of migration flows. We will tackle social fraud – social benefits for EU citizens should only be available if they have worked in the country where they live – as well as money laundering and corruption. The fight against organized crime and terrorism is also one of our top priorities. Finally, because we think privacy is a fundamental right, we vow to reinforce citizens’ privacy rights by protecting personal data.
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
As MEPs we do not have the impression that citizens have stopped complaining about those “failures”. A lot of NGOs and citizens are contacting us concerning women´s rights, gay rights or environmental standards. Within the European Institutions it is often the S&D groups the driving force to bring those issues back into the discussion. But of course, the crisis which caused massive job losses and was taking the base of life of millions of Europeans is more in the center of politics now – as it is an obligation of the European and national political actors to solve the most urgent problems within the EU.
European United Left–Nordic Green Left
The response by EU leaders to the crisis has shown up several failures at EU level. These are political failures largely linked to the mistaken belief that austerity would somehow end the recession. It has not and will not. In terms of attention, while the economic questions have dominated the last 5 years, we continue to push a left agenda in all the areas you mention. We need to continue to highlight the right to freedom of movement, LGBTQI rights etc… Questions of economic policy are inextricably linked to all other policy areas, our job as left MEPs is to emphasize this point and work to counter right-wing dogma in all its manifestations.
* Greeklish.info has asked all the political groups for an interview