OPINION
Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Not just sentimental

Don’t let us fool ourselves; a Greek exit from the euro would shake the very foundations of the Union

The EU has prepared a long-awaited firebreak for "destructive scenarios," in ECB President Mario Draghi's words. What scenarios? An attack by the speculators, no doubt. But also perhaps the fact that this firebreak, the purchase of debt, would isolate Spain and Italy, for example, from the destructive spasms of a possible Greek exit from the euro zone.

In this way, say documents published in Germany, a Greek exit would become a "minor drama." Experts worldwide are preparing their plans for this scenario and, what is more significant, are cheerfully airing the idea. They talk about it publicly, surely with the intention that, when the time comes, the rest of us in Europe will not be alarmed, but will see it as something inevitable, and even advisable for the economic health of the EU.

Yet the possible exit of Greece from the euro zone is more than just an economic question. We are not talking here about philosophy, or the funny and timely comedies of Aristophanes about the payment of debts. No, we are looking at what would be a substantial change in Europe as a political concept.

We are being given to believe that it is only a financial question, or in any case a sentimental one, camouflaging the fact that it implies a substantial change in the political meaning of the European Union, a radical reform of the objective with which the EU was created - sending out a miserable message that Europe, like other players in the new world order, is ready to destroy the weak to protect the strong.

There is craving to remold the EU into a thing different from what it is now -- into something clearly headed by Northern Europe

Does Greece need reforms? Of course. And vigilance. Without a doubt, when a party of the violent extreme right, Golden Dawn, has obtained 21 seats. It needs radical, strict reforms in the structure of the state, to ensure respect for the EU's rules. But what the EU is now doing is not working to bring about these reforms, but cynically pushing Greece outside the gates of the Union, demanding of her more than she can reasonably give.

The brutal adjustments imposed by the troika nourish the suspicion that, deep down, their intention is that the Greeks themselves will arrive at the conclusion that they will have a better chance of survival outside the Union than within.

For five years Greece has been in recession, and a new 11-billion-euro cutback has just been demanded of her. The demands include a recommendation that the working week be increased to six days, in all sectors.

The problem is not the six days (as long as they do not exceed 48 hours per week) but the continual bombardment of the idea that the Greeks are a pack of layabouts who are not lifting a finger to climb out of the hole. Yet (we should not lose sight of sheer data) an OECD report shows that the Greeks work an average of 2,109 hours per year, as against the Union average of 1,573.

It is true that corruption and tax evasion are huge and brutal problems in Greek society, but also that the suicide rate has risen by 40 percent, and that what most hinders the fight against small-scale tax evasion is the fact that some 50 percent of young people are unemployed, and seeking under-the-counter jobs.

To expel Greece can be seen in many ways. One of them is readily interpreted as a decisive step in the widespread craving to remold the EU into a thing different from what it is now -- into something clearly headed by Northern Europe.

True: in Europe, not even the intellectuals of the right have ever seen the United States as a model. However, there is a process by which the imposition of a model inspired by Germany and the Netherlands is being advanced, intimidating the weaker, more different countries. Possibly this Europe of the North is not entirely aware of what is at stake in the South.

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