July 8th, 2015 will go down in history as the day the European Parliament came to life. I will not pretend there have never been similar sessions, for I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that it is often criticized as not being a real parliament, even though its members are elected. The power in Europe is concentrated in the hands of the Commission that is made up of unelected representatives from the individual countries.
Today RT showed Alexis Tsipras entering the parliament to the accompaniment of robust cheers, with a broad swathe of representatives holding up “NO” signs. Although there were also sounds of disagreement, the overall attitude of the chamber was in favor of Greece, and some delegates minced no words in criticizing Germany for its harsh stance.
The fact that Marine Le Pen was among those who took the floor to defend the left-wing Greek government is not surprising: her far-right National Front Party has been using the Euro crisis to gain support from disillusioned left-wing voters.
Spain’s Podemos Party helped Greece’s Syriza in its election campaign, together with members of the Portuguese and Italian new left parties, and the hard-line taken by Germany and France is all about these countries: if the European Union offers relief to Greece, these other southern countries would ask for the same indulgence. If they deny relief to Greece, forcing it to leave the common currency, the other southern countries with troubled economies would eventually do the same thing and it would be over for the Euro. It can seem ironic that the parliament finally coming to life should lead to the dissolution of the European system, but it is precisely because the economic union was not accompanied by a political union that this would happen. Indeed, Tsipras’s speech declaring austerity to be not a Greek problem, but a European problem.