The example of Greece
In the past few days, the Government of Greece presented the central guidelinesfor the implementation of the Recovery Fund in Greece.The measures announced in EU countries are similar, with only minor differences, regardless of Government, neoliberal, social democratic, left-right or anything else, as the measures come from the core of the EU and the EU decisions which aim to the capitalist recovery and getting over thenew crisis.
After all, the measures in Greece were aptly named MEMORANDUM 5, as it is in fact a new, even more barbaric memorandum, which is planned to be imposed on the workers of Europe.It is characteristic that this barbaric plan is supported and promoted by the right hand of the European Commission, the ETUC.
PAME, trying to contribute to the information and exchange of experience among the European trade unions for the strengthening of the common struggle against Capital and EU, publishes a small Report on the measures of the Recovery Fund in Greece that can serve to draw conclusions inother countries, as well.
In Greece, as in the EU and internationally, governments and the bourgeois political system in general are converging on the adoption of greater state intervention to support the profitability of business groups.
The possibility of greater state intervention to mitigate the negative consequences for the people from the depths of the crisis is limited. The intensification of the competition of the imperialist centers in the international capitalist market places objective constraints on the expansionary fiscal policy currently pursued in the EU and in Greece. The big deviation from the fiscal targets will sooner or later lead to new tough measures that the working class and the masses will have to pay. German pressure is already mounting to reinstate the terms of the Stability Pact after 2021 on reducing government debt and annual deficits. Greece’s public debt now exceeds 200% of GDP and its service costs will increase in the next period.
The government of ND in Greece, in order to address the problems that collectively affect the domestic economy, took a series of short-term measures based on a new government loan that exceeded 12 billion euros.The government also took advantage of the surplusesof the previous period, which came from the high taxes and the reduced benefits, while preparing a large “package” of financing the capitalist economy, with the lion’s share of “support measures” being directed at strengthening the business groups.
The government’s medium-term policy, estimated at around € 70 billion, is the Greek version of the EU “response” to the new crisis, which now affects all EU economies. It focuses mainly on supporting theinvestments on”green” and “digital” transition proving that the problem of the economy in Greece, as well as in the EU, is much deeper than the consequences of the pandemic, since the main solution is the “green and digital transformation of the EU economy”.
The EU funding package and Greece’s participation in the Recovery Fund are linked to a national development plan, which will set out the reform and investment priorities by 2026, which must be submitted by each member state and is a precondition for disbursement of funding. The plan is in line with both EU planning and priorities and domestic capital requirements. Most of the funding will be used for the implementation of large investment projects of “green” growth (at least 37%) and the promotion of new digital solutions (at least 20%).
Specifically, the Implementation Plan of the Recovery Fund in Greece consists of 4 main pillars, which are “green growth”, “digital actions”, “employment – skills” and “private investment – transformation of the economy”.
The € 32 billion project involves the financing of business groups in the form of both direct grants (18.2 billion) from the EU Recovery Fund and EU interest-free loans (€ 12.8 billion).These amounts will be supplemented by the bank funding of companies and by the participation of private investors, who are expected to contribute only a small part to the total amount of investment plans.
The general rule focuses on a free subsidy of 50% of the investment plan, against to the 30% of bank lending and 20% participation of private investors.In addition to these, resources will be added from the Public Investment Program of the Greek state budget, through which parts of the investment expenditures which will not be considered eligible by the EU Recovery Fund will be subsidized.
In any case, the Greek state budget will be the intermediate link for all kinds of aid – transfers from the EU Recovery Fund to domestic business groups, in a development that leads to a further rise in government debt, which will be, once again, paid by the Greek workers.
At the same time, it is characteristic that the “national plan of recovery and resilience” contains the list of about 60 “reform” initiatives – programs, anti-worker upheavals whose legislation, in the known tactic of all memorandums, will “unlock” disbursement of installments.
Everything is subordinated to the prospect of capital recovery, in combination with a new attack on worker rights in insurance, at work, intensity of taxation, cuts in Health – Welfare expenditures, with restructurings against the people in the operation of the state mechanism, in Education, in operationof Justice etc.The main goal is to provide to the business groups an even cheaper and “flexible” workforce, without any rights.
Specifically, the government intends to put to a vote in the next period a law on Labor, which, among other things, includes the abolition of the 8-hour workday, the hit to the strike and overall to union action, the perpetuation and expansion of teleworking, the “digital tools” that will assist and facilitate their implementation.
The costs of digitization will be made where necessary to accelerate the implementation of changes which will be against the employees, such as the “digital work card” etc.
The reference to the implementation of the “mechanism for determining the minimum salary”, which is now becoming permanent, by government decision and on the basis of business competitiveness, is characteristic.
The “reform of passive labor market policies” is moving in the same direction, which under the pretext of “improving the coverage and fair distribution of unemployment benefits” aims to further reduce the meager unemployment benefits, as planned by the Greek Government.
The so-called “active job search on the part of the beneficiaries of unemployment benefits” will in fact turn into a permanent blackmail to the unemployed, to accept under any conditions low-paid jobs, in the name of “faster return to the labor market”!
In fact, government sources clarify that a condition for the return of unemployment benefit is the availability of the unemployed in training programs…
At the same time, to guarantee the profitability of the business groups, they ensure their path with all kinds of privileges and advantages, which undermine the popular needs at every step.
Among others, the following:
-Tax depreciation. This is another aid to business groups in terms of “climate change adaptation and other cyclical economy actions”, as well as the “digital transformation of productive activities” by doubling the amortization period of the asset or doubling the annual amortization rate of these investments.
-Attracting strategic investments with “special aid for the attraction of emblematic investments by distinguished entities that significantly enhance the competitiveness of the Greek economy at international level”. It also promotes the simplification of the institutional framework for business activity.
– Mergers – acquisitions. Establish a range of incentives to “encourage micro-enterprises (mainly sole proprietorships), small and medium-sized enterprises to work together or leverage mergers or acquisitions to create more efficient economic figures”.
– “Restructuring of private debts”. It is essentially the financing of the implementation of the new Bankruptcy Code (digital systems to support the “early warning mechanism” of insolvency of private debts, etc.), which signals the intensity of blackmail and auctions for the people and for small businesses.
– “Capital market development” with the aim of better business access to capital.
– Aid to pharmaceutical manufacturers. It is envisaged to offset claw back returns with clinical trial costs, Research & Development costs or investment costs during the period 2021 – 2023, as well as policies to streamline pharmaceutical spending.
The “green” sector absorbs the largest amount of investment resources of the Recovery Fund, namely 6.026 billion euros, which shows once again that the energy sector and the strengthening of monopoly groups operating in it, is a crucial issue for domestic political staff, in line with relevant EU policy guidelines.
More specifically, the goal of the so-called “green transition” is divided into four sub-goals related to the “energy transition”, with a budget of 1.2 billion euros, the energy upgrade of buildings and the spatial reform (2.544 billion euros), the “Green” transport (520 million), with the new “green” goods that the masses will pay as if they were gold, and another large “umbrella” sector entitled “sustainable resource use, resilience to climate change” and conservation of biodiversity “, with a budget of 1.762 billion euros.
Some of the most typical projects of the “energy” transition, concern the creation of Energy storage infrastructure, the electrical interconnection of the islands and the investments in the electricity transmission system, securing the resources of the special subsidy account of RES, etc., all the above are part of the goal of the country to turn the country into an energy “hub” for the single electricity market, a goal that signals the further intensification of competition paid by the people, in addition to the increase of energy poverty, as the case of West Macedonia proves.
As far as transportation is concerned, the plan promises of further strengthening and development of electric mobility, with the creation of charging hubs for electric vehicles, supply of electric vehicles for public transport, etc.
It should be noted that, among other things, funding is provided for the “upgrade of state-of-the-art industrial units” and at the same time the “strengthening of investments to reduce the CO2 footprint in passenger shipping”.
In this context, the “preparation of a detailed plan and study for the gradual renewal of the country’s passenger ship fleet in the context of the green transformation of the economy” is announced.
Finally, the fourth target, with the auspicious title “protection of biodiversity”, provides for the invasion of private capital in areas of strategic importance, such as water management, with PPP projects in water supply and irrigation and new excavations for the people and overall undermining of its needs for critical projects and infrastructure.
Finally, the fourth target, with the auspicious title “protection of biodiversity”, provides for the invasion of private capital in areas of strategic importance, such as water management, with PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects in water supply and irrigation, which means new taxes for the people and undermining of peoples’ needs for critical projects and infrastructure.
Equally important and heavily funded is the goal of the “digital transition”, with a total budget of 2.136 billion euros, which seeks to further develop and modernize state digital systems, the digital connectivity of businesses. Some of the most characteristic projects are the development of a network of microsatellites (€ 161 million), the development of a Fifth Generation (5G) network on major highways (€ 130 million), the digitization of state archives (€ 575 million) and the digital business transformation (EUR 375 million)
It is clear that the priority is the “needs” of business groups, while the “digital transformation” of the bourgeois state concerns the most effective and direct implementation of anti-popular policy.
Focusing mainly on vocational education and training, in the field of education, accelerating the implementation of the relevant law that passed at the end of 2020 and bore the stamp of the relevant proposals of the Greek Industrialists’ Union (SEV) is a priority.
Arrangements are also included about higher education, with common component being the greater interconnection of institutions with the “needs” of capitalist profitability.
The Greek Government’s planning is in line with the EU’s plans, as the measures have been co-decided, despite individual differences and competition that may exist, under the central objective of reducing “workers costs”, ensuring the profitability of business groups in the EU as well as protecting the exploitative system from the growing rage and indignation of Europe’s workers.
In the face of the anti-workers plans of EU-Capital-Governments, the workers, the militant unions of Europe, we must compare our own plan for reorganization of the working movement. With new initiatives of coordination, struggles and joint actions, to enable the people to breathe.