EP president Martin Schulz insisted solidarity is the key to pulling Europe and the Eurozone out of the debt crisis during his first official visit to Greece on 28 February. Explaining that "Europe is not a community based on austerity, Europe is a community based on solidarity", the president stressed that budgetary consolidation needs to be grounded in social justice and matched by initiatives to restore growth.
President Schulz talked about solidarity during his speech to the EU, Economic, and Defence and Foreign Affairs committees of the Greek Parliament: "We are all in the same boat – only together can we ride out the current storm. After all, Europe is our shared future."
He said that since the start of the crisis the European Parliament has been consistent in advocating solidarity and a balanced mix of measures that includes debt reduction as well as growth initiatives. "Budgetary prudence is certainly essential in order to curb state indebtedness. Debt reduction is also a matter of intergenerational justice – we do not want to bequeath a mountain of debt to our children."
But president Schulz stressed that this should not be at the expense of the weakest members of society: "As representatives of the peoples of Europe, we are convinced that budgetary consolidation must not imperil social justice."
In addition Greece needs initiatives to get its economy moving in order to boost demand and create jobs. "After all they have been through, the people of Greece, and the business community in Greece, need new hope."
Prior to his speech in the Parliament, president Schulz also met Greek president Karolos Papoulias and prime minister Loukas Papademos and told them he would support the efforts to create a growth-oriented package of measures for Greece. In addition when he met a delegation of pensioners, he expressed his solidarity and said he understood the sacrifices they face due to the crisis.