Mrs Reding is a very capable speaker and really engaged in her job and the European project. And I think it was about time that a high ranked EU official reached out to Greece and its people and converse with them directly.
After all the citizens are going through to stabilize Greece's and Europe's economy and single currency, they surely need to have their voices heard and their questions answered. And a little encouragement and praise for all their sacrifices can go a long way.
This initiative is part of the European Year of Citizens. During this year, Commissioners and other EU officials will be meeting and talking to citizens across Europe. "There are many discussions in Europe about Greece. There are many discussions in Greece about other European countries. There must be more discussions with the Greek people – and not about them. In Europe, we should talk with each other – not about each other," stated Mrs Reding opening her speech.
And how true is that. Our media love to pretend to be experts on knowing what is happening in other countries. Competition to break a story, plus the love of drama and human misery are used just to sell a story. But somewhere in all this effort, our media forget to see the problem objectively and see where a certain country is coming from, understanding the historic and cultural elements that influence the situation.
Also our governments love to underline the problems and failures of other countries, to turn the spot-light away from the national issues their governments fail to deal. Thus using the situation in another country, to sooth the public opinion or turn their anger towards another country or the EU itself. How can we built a European society with these practices?
These structural reforms, like product and service market liberalization to business environment reforms and the fight against tax evasion, have to overcome bureaucratic delays, vested interests and longstanding policy taboos. "The reforms are for businesses and for the citizens," she stated.
I totally agree with her, reforms were long overdue in Greece and most of Europe. The problem is, that what dominates the Greek media is an absolute cacophony of opinions and ideas, that disorient the Greek public opinion. That is understandable of course. Those who will lose out of the changes, will use all means to make these reforms look unpopular to the public.
But shouldn't the Greek Government use all democratic means, perhaps just what Mrs Reding is using, to give their people to understand what is happening, why and for how long? A dialogue and a debate is all it takes. Instead of that, we have a blame game between the Greek political elite, but also among the European one. The only victim from this situation is the confidence of the public in the euro and the EU itself.
Well the support does not come unconditionally. There is an interest on the loans that Greece will receive by its European partners, so in other words everyone will benefit from the Greek crisis. The lenders will receive their money back but with interest, so I do not see why this is used as an argument of "solidarity." The European countries had no choice but to help Greece and other countries in need, as if their economies failed, they would drag every other state with them.
It was the business, political and economic elites of Greece that blocked all progress in the country, yet they are getting away from all consequences. And the European elites were doing business with them, so they have also contributed in many circumstances in Greece's difficulties. But the ordinary people are called to pay instead. I will agree with Mrs Reding that populism and shallow nationalism are not the solution to Greece’s problem.
I wish I could see the same confidence and excitement that the Commissioner showed, among the ordinary citizens. Most of the people I speak with in Greece and Ireland, are either fed up with the euro or indifferent. Only the business class is still strongly for the euro. And it is not just those two countries. Portugal, Spain, Italy and now Cyprus are witnessing a rising skepticism on the euro. If the crisis continues and most likely it will, as Slovenia is duped to be the next Cyprus, how much longer can we keep the euro enthusiasm?
It is absolutely true that the EU, or the euro did not created the crisis. Our national governments did, so they are part of the problem. But now they got to be part of the solution. How can we get to a solution while Europe is being governed by intergovernmentalism, meaning that our governments are the ones who in the end, agree between them the future of our continent. The same governments who allowed all the terrible mistakes to happen and neglected to see the problems.
I really look forward to see all the above work come into fruition, but for the moment every time I speak with friends and family in Greece, they are totally unaware of these reforms taking place. The Greek Government and media are just happy to divide the Greek public opinion, in order to be easier for them to proceed with the harsh austerity that Europe is imposing on Greece.
That is not the way to proceed with reforms. I believe that if the Greek public was made aware of all that Mrs Reding mentioned in her speech, they would have more patience and courage to go through this painful period. But all they witness are more scandals and corruption, inequality and injustice. Plus all the slander coming from other European nations. How can anyone expect them to accept everything that their government is making them go through?
You may read the full report on Mrs. Reding's speech here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-254_en.htm#PR_metaPressRelease_bottom