By Nikos Orfanos, Actor – Director, MEP candidate with “The River”
So, nobody likes this Europe anymore. What’s going on? After so many years of communication among the nations of Europe, so many goods traveling from one market to another, so many educational exchanges, thousands of travels around the European countries, what went wrong? Why don’t we like our Union anymore? Whose fault is it anyway?
Let’s talk about Greece. Greece was a rather poor country in the end of the ‘70s, when K. Karamanlis as prime minister, signed the first agreement with the –so called- then EOK. Nobody wanted this aggrement those days, except from him and his right wing party. Left parties declared that EOK was an American puppet, put there in order to increase market power over European independence. Pasok, Andreas Papandreou socialists, gained the government in 1981. Soon afterwards, they buried their anti-union flags, and begun to take money from the Union’s agriculture programmes, spreading European money to the Greek farmers, as a kind of a subsidy on their production. With loose inspection and by funding not the amount of the production, but the range of their land, Greek farmers soon enough learned to live not by selling their products, but by the Union’s sponsorship. This destroyed the quality of many first class products, since the agricultural unions did not feel the need to sell them anyway, or create high standards for their export.
Then time the money flow stopped. A big number of farmers found themselves with products that did not know where and how to sell them. Many of them did not know what to do, without the government’s funding on their farming. This meant, that a big percent of the Greek agriculture was left behind the international agricultural exports explosion, which other European countries managed to built.
This was not just one problem, but it shows how European Union to thousands of Greeks meant money without strict control. This can be easily understood from the fact that all of the big works in Greece the last thirty years, roads, bridges, transportation, ports, airports, etc, were made with huge funding from the Union.
This was not exactly wrong, Greece was not the only country that took the money, the problem was that politicians here, deceived the people into believing that, the money would be coming forever. This built up a mindset, so when the money was naturally gone, people felt betrayed, both from their leaders and the Union.
Plus, soon after the Olympics in 2004, thousands of refugees from African countries, rushed through the Greek borders, turning the capital city, Athens, into a health and crime bomb. And that was when the neo-nazis appeared.
Today, ten years after the Olympics, Greece’s economy has collapsed. The Union’s money did not create the infrastructure in order to renew agricultural production and build the financial development. The government borrowed a huge amount, through the IMF, without knowing when the money were going to be returned. It was as if a bank was lending an unemployed person a big loan. That man did not manage to find a job, and comes back claiming he cannot return anything, so he needs more money to live. He takes more, and then comes back without knowing when he is planning to finally find a job.
Out of Greece, the candidates for the presidency of the European commission are taking places and describe their plans for a new Europe, closer to the voters, more democratic and many more. But I see a little problem: I feel, that in their plans, except maybe from Guy Verhofstadt, they view Europe detached from the rest of the world. But unfortunately it is not.
A rough storm is coming straight at European borders the next few years. Vladimir Putin is pressing with the energy rope that has tighten around Europe’s neck. England, wants out of the Union, relying, from one hand on the good condition of its economy and the spreading of the English language, and from the other hand on its strong relationship with the United States. After all, it is common ground on the British foreign policy, that whenever they are not in charge, they take themselves out of the game.
From underneath, China is taking more and more factories. We can forget the big factories of mass production. They are not coming back. We cannot accept salaries such as 300 or 200 euros per month for the European workers. If China increases the workers’ salaries, India will rush in, in order to take the factories in order to keep the cost of production low.
From the other side of the Atlantic, the US, is achieving a second invasion, through the digital era companies, the social media, and the smart micro engines. Moreover, the multinational firms of the US are pressing for low taxing on their European profit. The internet with its international-global market is also an uncontrollable threat to the European shops and labour.
From the inside, left European parties are dreaming of a second socialist “revolution”, the most powerful of them, the Greek SYRIZA, is putting the option of exiting the European Union on the table, in order to gain votes from those, who see Europe as a money machine, as I wrote in the beginning. Fascists will also, enter the European Parliament, as it seems in a few weeks. This will make the coordination between the European parties very difficult.
We must see the European Union in the middle of the global map. We must plan an evolution that will lead us to high quality products, that cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. Europe has great civilisation history, artistic background that can light up the imagination we need. Asia is a mass producer, America is a developer in digital technology, we Europeans, can be the whimsical users and creators of new and unique ways of living and producing. New scientists and young start uppers in innovative companies already are showing us the road. Digitalization can take traditional jobs into new levels. Greece, with its excellent climate needs the transformation, that will create euphoria into everything, from energy and production to making a better way of living and much better salaries.
The storm is coming and before we talk about the decoration, we must tighten the rope that holds the European ship.
Europe has the choice to be a leader or a follower. I prefer the first. I believe we can do it. We, at the “River” Party, believe that, Europe has the ability to do it. Let’s face the problems and create our common future.