After Poland, Greece threatens to spoil EU’s Rome celebration over reform review

The Europa building, a new €321m summit venue in Brussels, decorated with multicoloured ceilings and carpets intended to symbolise the “united patchwork” of Europe. / Wikimedia Commons

Reuters — Greece is threatening to withhold its support for the Rome declaration, in which 27 European Union nations on Saturday are to chart the EU’s course after Britain leaves, in protest at naw austerity measures its lenders are seeking from it in exchange for continuing to fund the bailout loans, officials said to Reuters.

Germany is  trying to get the International Monetary Fund to participate in the third Greek bailout. The Fund says it will join the latest Greek bailout only if Athens reforms its pension and taxation systems and its labour market more to modernise its economy and make the public finances sustainable.

Greek officials say they cannot sign the Rome declaration on values shared by the EU unless it clearly protects labour rights.

“They asked for one extra paragraph on social dimension. But politically they linked it to the ongoing negotiations with creditors,” one EU official with insight into the issue said.

A draft of the declaration says that EU leaders will work towards a Union which promotes economic and social progress as well as cohesion and convergence, taking into account the variety of social models and the key role of social partners.

“They said it’s difficult for them to celebrate in Rome while one of the non-European institutions is pursuing policy that has significant effects on the Greek economy,” the EU official said.

“They’re going to use this (Rome declaration) as a negotiating tool,” a second official said, adding that Athens was hoping European lenders would help them fight the IMF’s reform demands in exchange for Greece’s support for the declaration.

A Greek government official denied Athens intended to block the treaty and said it was making suggestions as part of a dialogue on the issue.

“The Greek government, in the framework of the preparatory discussions ahead of the anniversary Summit, underlined the need for the Rome declaration to be enriched in order to highlight the importance of the European Social Model, which includes the protection of workers,” a Greek government document said.

Following the  spat between Poland and the EU over the re-appointment of Donald Tusk as European council President on 8 March,  the Polish Prime Minister also said that the final declaration of the EU summit in Rome must meet a number of requirements for Poland to agree on it.