Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Background analysis VI: Responsibility of the European Commission

Despite the European Commission putting pressure on the Greek state to reform i.e. pass such severe austerity measures, that the unemployment rate has soared up to 27% in 2013 (and amongst the youth it reaches even over 50%), once the decision by Samaras was made, the following press release seeks to free the EU Commission from any responsibility.



Statement by the European Commission on the closure of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation

Reference: MEMO/13/545 Event Date: 12/06/2013



European Commission


Brussels, 12 June 2013

Statement by the European Commission on the closure of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation:

"The European Commission has taken note of the decision by the Greek authorities to close down the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), a decision taken in full autonomy.

The Commission has not sought the closure of ERT, but nor does the Commission question the Greek Government’s mandate to manage the public sector. The decision of the Greek authorities should be seen in the context of the major and necessary efforts that the authorities are taking to modernise the Greek economy. Those include improving its efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector.

The Commission understands the difficult situation of ERT staff and expects the announced dismissals to be carried out in full accordance with the applicable legal framework.

The Commission supports the role of public broadcasting as an integral part of European democracy. The Treaty makes it clear that the governance and strategic choices on public service broadcasting lie with Member States. So while the Commission cannot prescribe Member States how to organise their public service broadcaster, we would like to highlight the role of public service broadcasters regarding European values in all economic circumstances, for the sake of media pluralism, media freedom and media quality and for the expression of cultural diversity. So we welcome the commitment of the Greek government to launch a media actor that fulfils the important role of public broadcasting and is financially sustainable."


Immediately the following question can be posed: what is the European Commission's understanding of 'autonomy' which Greece and the Greek government supposed to have under not just any, but these, indeed very specific conditions. The financial crisis broke out in full at the end of 2009, and since then Greece is under severe pressure to fulfil the demands of the TROIKA. In acknowledging the meaning of 'national sovereign debt', it is the Greek state to take full responsibility as to what happens budget and politically wise. Still, it would have been better to admit this was a decision not taken in full but limited autonomy, and subsequently in haste.

Not seeking specifically the closure of ERT, that may be true, but the European Commission does ask that Greece complies and reforms its economy along with seeking a new management for its public services. After all the latter is made out to be the stumbling bloc number one when it comes to cut back in state expenditures. With 1 million employed, the Troika has asked for a cut back of at least 150 000 employees by 2014.

How to explain such a contradiction? Press releases are meant to be carefully worded. It shows how well guarded the European Commission is when it comes to allocate and to attribute as much responsibilities as faults or mistakes. Along this line it should be said as of late the European Commission has come under a lot of criticism. Here a crucial opinion has been articulated by a poet:


On Wed, 12 Jun 2013 14:46:15 +0200, he wrote:

Dear all,

With great sadness I read this - yet another - story on how citizens are being confronted with (strange/wrong/criminal/different/...) interpretations of texts, rules, laws and regulations which bring me to the the following questions: Where do we want to go with the EU? But also we need to interrogate ourselves and ask what we want to do for the EU.

Another question, a very important one also, is the one concerning the battle against corruption, fraud and tax evasion. What do we want to (not) do to make sure the state (and/or the EU & other international institutions) can execute its functions as state.

Do we have an answer to all these questions? And how can we (the citizens) make a difference and help in demanding to create a state organisation which is there for the public/citizens and not to squeeze the public/citizens into doing/paying for a small elite of selfish decision makers...



The double question as to what the European Union (Council of Member States, European Parliament, European Commission) is doing during this crisis, and what can citizens do to express better the kind of Europe they want, can partially be answered by an article of the New York Times about the recent admission by the IMF that mistakes were made with regards to Greece.

Several things can be pointed out in such a context of global connections and intereferences:


Artists and in particular poets can contribute by ensuring language is not misused so that the honesty in words and reflections is brought about by letting practical wisdom be expressed. As pointed out in my reflections as to what happened here yesterday once practical judgement is missing, then many things can happen and it is then too late to stop it or do something before too late. This means that we need to allow for human reasoning to have a voice and from there create spaces so that people do listen and can also express their subjective viewpoints, impressions, hunches, silly questions, since all that is but the beginning of being taken serious. The effort to comprehend complex processes should be supported all the time. That is why public discourse is a direction contribution to literacy. Without it you have only violence.

Europe and therefore the institutions of the European Union are deeply flawed because the European Parliament has not the right to propose legislation. This is the privilege of the European Commission and thus it is a political administration but of technocrats who have no political legitimacy. They derive power from getting the Council i.e. Member States giving them through treaties a mandate to act. To have such a political administration determine law is quite dangerous. Especially if they are no longer in touch with reality. Already the entire foreign service of the Commission is an utter financial scam. It serves the purpose of giving as a reward highly lucrative jobs to people who talk in the name of Europe even if they do not believe in that. But it is the result of the Lisbon treaty which links business interests to having European representation abroad but what Europe has been doing is to introduce internationally the very same evaluation methods it applies so wrongly internally.

Bart Verschaffel said Europe is a fiction but a necessary one. Now there is the risk that this fiction is becoming a nightmare and you have people like Gabriel completely turned off so that I have difficulties convincing him that it is still worthwhile to stay on board i.e. attempt to make some contribution.

Bob Palmer would say the problem of Europe is that the key persons there no longer listen nor are they able to take advise in a way that you would be convinced they get the message. For instance, I had warned from 2004 onwards about misuse of funds by the Ministry of Culture here in Greece but no response. When the deficit gap became public in 2009 everyone pretended to be surprised but it was known that the statistical reports were but spin doctor reports. Afraid to name things by their real names people inside the Commission did everything to circumvent a direct confrontation with a member state for afterall they depend in their power upon the good will of the member states. I find that a wrong dependency.

Truth comes from being independent in body and mind. The greatest gift any artist can make is to facilitate what Michael D. Higgins calls culture, namely a search for truth. We do not have the absolute truth but we do know the difference between someone stuttering out an awkward question and a skilful speech avoiding naming the real issues.

Still, it is to be appreciated when you raise this double edged question yet the question what we can do should not be called an interrogation. The method of asking questions should be the outcome of a refinement of our philosophical attitude towards the logic of questions. And don't forget that Europe did fare well as long as the consensus prerequisite was really upheld, so that the no of one was taken serious. Here it might help to remind what Kant said: if we try to explain something and others do not understand what we are saying then with certainty we have not understood as of yet what we are trying to say.

The political trust poets can give in words becoming open fields to experience life differently and even like a strange planet, hence not take it for granted, here find already of interest, for instance, how Satchi approaches it as exemplified in his poem 'The door' and which Menna picks up as well: absurd situations made plausible when the door becomes a centre piece of attention.











^ Top

« Background analysis V: "No" to over commercialization of the public media | Towards a new media strategy »