“Europe today has a social excessive deficit and is not addressing it,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told a news conference upon the conclusion of today’s EU summit.
“It did not address the issue either at last month’s [informal] Gothenburg summit, or in the proposal of the European Commission,” he said.
“For this reason we undertook an initiative for a Social Europe, for a credible European Pillar of Social Rights, with specific, binding social targets,” the PM said, in an apparent effort to burnish his leftist credentials.
The Gothenburg summit defined 20 principles clustered around three main areas: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, and social protection and inclusion.
“In the eurozone, a strong and binding social pillar is the precondition for stability and viability. No monetary union can function with societies within it operating at different speeds,” Tsipras said.
On the crucial issue of EU burden-sharing in the reception of refugees, Tsipras said the stance of countries which refuse to cooperate violates fundamental European principles, upon which the Union was built.
Tsipras described European Council President Donald Tusk’s proposal to essentially scrap the burden-sharing plan as “misguided”.
“You cannot have certain parties today, based on the idea that the refugee issue does not affect them, impose changes in the manner of thinking, discussion, and decision-making that the EU has established years ago, elements that represents constitutive principles of the EU,” the PM said
“This is a bomb at the foundations of the EU. That was the framework of the essential disagreement I expressed, and I think it is a dispute that we shall meet with again in the future,” he added.
“We must make clear that you cannot participate in the EU a la carte. You cannot have some believing that they have only rights and no obligations,” Tsipras said of countries like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are refusing to take their share of refugees.”
The Turkey factor
Tsipras said that leaders expressed interest in his meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, particularly as regards the refugee crisis.
“European security and management of the refugee issue is based on smooth Greek-Turkish relations. I stressed the importance of intensifying EU cooperation with Turkey [regarding the readmission agreement], and to send the necessary messages to Turkey regarding the need to respect international law in the Aegean, and regarding the restart of Cyprus talks,” the PM said.