Margaritis Schinas comments on energy crisis, immigration management, defense agreements between Greece and France, vaccination
On the energy crisis:
“This is not a European phenomenon. We are in a phase where after the period of 18 months of the pandemic the financial spring had gathered downwards and now it is erupting upwards. This is causing a global explosion of demand, which can not be accompanied by the corresponding supply of raw materials or energy. This global systemic phenomenon, which we believe will not be permanent, will affect us until early next year, in the spring” the European Commission vice-president said.
Speaking to public broadcaster ERT about the EU’s ways of reacting, he said: “At the College of Commissioners yesterday we took some initiatives to help governments find common solutions. In the short term, it is to help vulnerable households and small and medium-sized enterprises that are more directly exposed to the energy crisis.” He also said that “next week, at the Summit, the prime ministers will all come together on this issue.
According to the Vice-President of the Commission, vaccines in Europe have developed a syndrome of solidarity. All governments understand that not everyone can improvise on cutting-edge issues. The same will happen in energy.” He informed that “next week, at the Summit, there will be short-term measures to support the most vulnerable, medium-term joint European initiatives such as gas market, increase of gas storage facilities and why not, overall negotiation with our suppliers”.
“Beyond the short term, we have to decide whether it is convenient for each government to negotiate individually the supplies from third country suppliers, who take advantage of the individual negotiations to force us. “Europe must be a little more cunning as a result of these crises and go one step further than we are.”
Mr. Schinas explained that “Europe never has a cloudless sky. An unexpected crisis always emerges. Now that we are coming out of the pandemic crisis, we have these obstacles in the energy market, which are not insurmountable. It is a systemic crisis. And our competitors are suffering from the same issue. We have an advantage. We have the largest internal market in the world, which enables us to intervene in a regulatory manner. Energy is slowly becoming an area of Community action. The combination of the two factors I believe will help. ”
The Vice-President of the Commission expressed the view that “we are essentially living in a better era in terms of migration flows from the nightmarish period 2015-16 when the collapse of Syria and the lack of any regulatory framework in Europe created an unprecedented situation. Now we are very different. We have a reinforced Frontex, we have centers organized on all the external borders of the European Union and we have the political will to react together whenever these authoritarian leaders try to use human suffering to attack Europe.”
In this context, he characterized Evros as a leading political moment in the immigration policy, on Clean Monday 2020. “We have proven both as Greece and as Europe that we can safeguard the external borders.
Mr. Schinas pointed out that an overall agreement on immigration is needed. “We need an institutional, permanent, productive framework. We need to be clear. We cannot manage migration within the EU if we do not find ways outside it. And this goes through agreements and arrangements with our immediate neighbors, and with Turkey, Morocco and its neighboring countries. There, Europe must use everything in its quiver, money, visas, trade preferences, erasmus scholarships. Everything that Europe can do to help its neighbors in co-managing immigration is absolutely acceptable and it must do it.”
On the agreement between Greece and France
On the occasion of the signing of a new defense agreement between Greece and France, the Vice President of the Commission stated that Europe is a powerful Union, but it is not a defense union.
“Despite its general weakness, the de-escalation in the Aegean from last summer until this year is due to the coordinated reaction of Europe and the mixture of stick and carrot that we developed which set the rules of the game to the neighbors. Is it enough? No. We need a Europe of defense, autonomous, where no one will hold for her an umbrella under which to hide, but she will make her own umbrella.” And as he stressed, “the Greek-French agreement is a step in this direction.”
On incidents with extreme right-wing groups in Greece.
Commenting on the sad incidents Mr. Schinas said that “the rise of the far right in Europe has slowed down because the worst point for these phenomena in the EU was the economic crisis. As soon as Europe managed to emerge symmetrically from the economic crisis and provide answers to society’s problems, the far right across Europe withered. See also the electoral percentages in Greece. The best defense for the extremes is good politics. Only then will we win the game.”
Responding to what happened in Thessaloniki and the incidents in Stavroupolis, he commented: “Of course, I am also worried about the situation in Stavroupolis. However, I believe that these are not generalized and systemic. Society must be vigilant. “There is no room in Greece for Nazism.”
Regarding the issue of vaccination, Margaritis Schinas stated that there are no other magical solutions than vaccines. “The only message we can give to the Greeks is to be vaccinated. I can not believe that there is a world that disbelieves in one of the greatest scientific discoveries of mankind, which is the vaccine.”
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