European socialist parties meet in Athens

12:52, March 05, 2011      

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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (L) and President of the Party of European Socialists (PES) Poul Nyrup Rasmussen attend a press conference on the opening day of European Socialist parties summit in Athens, Greece, March 4, 2011. Ahead of the upcoming EU Council summit in Brussels later this month, European Socialists examine in Athens a joint plan to face the current economic crisis in Europe. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

A two-day European socialist parties' meeting opened Friday in Athens with a plea that bold decisions to calm down markets should be made during the upcoming European Union (EU) summit later this month.

"We need to reach a comprehensive bold common policy to calm down markets. Otherwise, Europe will face further pressure," said Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou during a press conference prior to the opening dinner of the European socialist parties summit Friday evening.

European socialist group leader Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said the socialist parties have concrete "progressive" proposals to tackle the current economic crisis in Europe, such as a drop in the interest rates for the EU-International Monetary Fund (IMF) support mechanism already activated for Greece and Ireland.

The two countries have secured over the past year aid packages to face acute debt crises that threatened them with default. But market pressure has not decreased and EU member states, where conservatives hold the majority, examine a strengthening of the rescue mechanism.

Euro-zone member states are to hold a meeting on March 11 to discuss a new package of measures which will be debated during an EU summit on March 24.

"EU's conservative majority is responsible for the continuing crisis. They have not shown solidarity," said Rasmussen, adding that European Socialists nowadays ask for lower interest rates for Greece and Ireland, the issue of a Euro-bond and a 0.05 percent transaction tax on banks as an alternative way to exit the crisis.

According to studies, Rasmussen said Europe could have revenues of up to 250 billion euros (about 349 billion U.S. dollars) per year from this transaction tax, so that "banks and hedge funds which contributed to the crisis will also pay for the way out of the crisis."

"With our proposal Europe will decrease deficits and debts, creating at the same time eight million new jobs across the continent, while conservatives through the Franco-German competitiveness pact will implement only austerity measures," stressed Rasmussen.

Furthermore, Papandreou and Rasmussen underlined that from their point of view there is no need for Portugal and Spain to resort to the EU-IMF aid mechanism.

Meanwhile, European conservative parties hold a similar gathering in Helsinki ahead of the EU summit.

Source: Xinhua

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