EU: Greens chief warns new debt rules will strengthen EU far right, Putin

As published on: euractiv.com, Monday 15 January, 2024. 

Ahead of a vote in the European Parliament on new debt rules for EU countries, the Greens co-president Philippe Lamberts warned against the “end of the European Union as we know it” in a worst-case scenario where renewed austerity gives rise to populists and too little military spending lets Putin win the war in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament will vote on the reform of the EU’s rules for national debts and deficits (“Stability and Growth Pact”).

While a deal was struck between finance ministers of EU countries in late December last year, parts of the package still have to be negotiated with the European Parliament in the inter-institutional dialogue between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU known as trilogues.

While the reform was considered necessary due to the old rules being considered unrealistic and insufficiently enforced, “Actually, the new rules are equally detrimental and equally unworkable,” Lamberts said in an interview with Euractiv and EUObserver.

“But at least they will be tried, which means that their freezing effect on public finances will happen regardless of us meeting the targets or not,” he added.

“That means that austerity will be back. And you know what austerity breeds? It breeds the far-right. It breeds national populism,” Lamberts said.

In a “worst-case scenario” that could see French far-right leader Marine Le Pen become president and former US president Donald Trump re-elected, Russian President Vladimir Putin could win the war in Ukraine, he added.

“Why does he win? Because Trump stops supporting Ukraine, and we have decided that we don’t want to put the money behind our words, so basically we let Ukraine down,” Lamberts said.

“That’s the end of the European Union as we know it. Maybe it will still exist, but it will be a paper tiger at best,” he added.

“This is sleepwalking Europe into a disaster,” Lamberts, an MEP since 2009, said about the new fiscal rules, calling it “the biggest case of sleepwalking” he had ever witnessed.


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