Crisis-Hit Greece to Assume the EU Presidency

Written by | Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Athens is to take over the six-month presidency of the European Union as of January 1, 2014. Given Greece’s own substantial economic and internal problems, the major issues of its presidency – the banking union and European Parliament ballot looming – might be hard to tackle for this Mediterranean nation. Observers have already agreed that it is not expected that the Greek presidency will be a smooth one.
According to Zsolt Darvas of the Bruegel Institute in Brussels, the presidency is likely to be very complicated for Greece mainly due to its own internal troubles, public sector inefficiency and the time pressure accompanying the run-up to the European Parliament elections. Forecasts envisage that eurosceptics and far-right parties have a substantial chance to succeed, an occurrence that could whirl the EU28’s economic and political agenda for the upcoming years. Moreover, the country itself is going to hold municipal elections in mid- and late May, which may boost political forces against the Greek government’s austerity policies including the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU.
The latest opinion polls have revealed that the leader of the opposition seems to be the leftist party – Syriza. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, has recently named a radical left candidate for the President of the European Commission, and promised to cancel many of austerity measures and tax hikes imposed on Greece as part of the deals with the creditors from the IMF and EU.
Unfortunately, another threat comes from the Greek neo-Nazi party – Golden Dawn – which is being investigated for severe crimes such as murder and extortion. Although the leadership of the party is in jail, Golden Dawn is consistently third best in the opinion polls and could elect a number of mayors presumably in the poorest regions of the country. The main frontier policies of the neo-Nazis are mainly illegal immigration and economic growth, which is probably why these themes will dominate the Greek six months in Brussels.

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