Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty and other world renown economists make a “plea for economic sanity and humanity.”

In an essay published on Friday morning in the Financial Times, 26 of the world’s most renowned economic minds proclaimed their solidarity with Syriza, Greece’s ruling anti-austerity party.

The article’s authors—a group that includes Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty, Marcus Miller and former Prime Minister of Italy Massimo D’Alema—summarized their message as a “plea for economic sanity and humanity.” Arguing that the fate of the European Union depends on the ability of Greece and its creditor institutions to compromise, they demanded that the European Union provide “forbearance and finance to promote structural reform and financial recovery,” and that Greece demonstrate “credible commitment” to reform and playing “a positive role in the EU.”

At the center of the article is austerity’s failure to remedy Greece’s economic woes. “Austerity drastically reduces revenue from tax reform,” they write “and restricts the space for change to make administration accountable and socially efficient.” Moreover, they continue, “the constant concessions required by the government mean that Syriza is in danger of losing political support and thus its ability to create a program that will bring Greece out of the crisis.”

At stake, they say, is nothing less than the failure of Greek democracy and the rise of “much more radical and dysfunctional challenges, fundamentally hostile to the EU.”

Founded in 2004 as a coalition of leftist parties, Syriza came to power in January 2015. Having vowed to repeal the austerity measures imposed upon the Greek government by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank in the wake of the global financial crisis, Syriza now faces the difficult task of turning its promises into realities.

Some, including American Senator Bernie Sanders, fear that Syriza’s failure to achieve its goals will mean a substantial increase in popular support for Greece’s fascist Golden Dawn party. A political victory for Golden Dawn presumably numbers among the “challenges” to democracy and the EU Stiglitz et al. predict in the event of Syriza’s failure to end austerity.

If the European Union fails to adequately address the widespread suffering caused by austerity, Syriza may also choose to leave the Eurozone, thereby defaulting on its loans. Such a decision could undermine not just the European Union’s integrity, but could call its very legitimacy as a supranational organization into question.

The economists’ essay appeared in the Financial Times at a moment when prospects look increasingly grim for both Greece and Syriza. This week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released predictions of rising unemployment in tandem with a ballooning debt-to GDP ratio. These setbacks can only deepen what even the European Union refers to as a Greece’s “humanitarian crisis.”

“How Greece is treated will send a message to all its eurozone partners. Like the Marshall plan, let it be one of hope not despair” the essay concludes.

Whether or not the European Union will heed the 26 economists’ call for hope and an end to austerity remains to be seen.

The signatories

Prof Joseph Stiglitz

Columbia University; Nobel Prize winner of Economics

Prof Thomas Piketty

Paris School of Economics

Massimo D’Alema

Former prime minister of Italy; president of FEPS (Foundation of European Progressive Studies)

Prof Stephany Griffith-Jones

IPD Columbia University

Prof Mary Kaldor

London School of Economics

Hilary Wainwright

Transnational Institute, Amsterdam

Prof Marcus Miller

Warwick University

Prof John Grahl

Middlesex University, London

Michael Burke

Economists Against Austerity

Prof Panicos Demetriadis

University of Leicester

Prof Trevor Evans

Berlin School of Economics and Law

Prof Jamie Galbraith

Dept of Government, University of Texas

Prof Gustav A Horn

Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK)

Prof Andras Inotai

Emeritus and former Director, Institute for World Economics, Budapest

Sir Richard Jolly

Honorary Professor, IDS, Sussex University

Prof Inge Kaul

Adjunct professor, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

Neil MacKinnon

VTB Capital

Prof Jacques Mazier

University of Paris

Dr Robin Murray

London School of Economics

Prof Jose Antonio Ocampo

Columbia University

Prof Dominique Plihon

University of Paris

Avinash Persaud

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Prof Mario Pianta

University of Urbino

Helmut Reisen

Shifting Wealth Consultancy

Dr Ernst Stetter

Secretary General, FEPS (Foundation fro European Progressive Studies)

Prof Simon Wren-Lewis

Merton College Oxford