Over the past few weeks, we have been busy organizing an initiative to express civil society’s collective dismay and concern about being left out of the design and implementation of Greece’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
Greece will receive €32 billion from the EU in a combination of grants and loans. We must ensure that this substantial amount of money is not wasted on ineffective or exclusive policies, but rather goes toward meeting the needs of all people living in Greece, especially those in greatest need of support. In other words, spending must prioritize green and socially just initiatives.
We’ve heard lots of rhetoric from the EU and the Greek government about how these funds will grow the economy, improve society, fight climate change, and improve resilience so we can weather the next storm, whether it comes in the form of another pandemic or something else. But how will this money actually be spent? Will it simply pay lip service to these noble goals or will it really transform society’s underlying problems and structural flaws that have led us into the current mess?
In this spirit, we and Greenpeace have submitted an open letter to Deputy Finance Minister Skylakakis, co-signed by 70+ of our civil society peers, including many of you reading this. Our demands are clear: don’t leave us out of the process of designing the recovery initiatives because we, the people on the ground working with and representing some of society’s most vulnerable communities, understand Greece’s needs and we have thoughtful, detailed proposals on how we can meet them. Our input will not only strengthen the plan’s proposals but will also generate public buy-in, which is crucial to the plan’s success. We also insist on full transparency and accountability.
With the EU deadline looming, we understood that time was running out for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to benefit from civil society’s valuable insights. Accordingly, last week on March 23rd, we and Greenpeace submitted an open letter to Deputy Finance Minister Mr. Skylakakis demanding meaningful opportunities to contribute to the recovery plan.
We have still not received a response. And yet, a few days later, the Greek cabinet approved a final version of the plan, announced it publically, and is expected to submit it to parliament this week before sending it to Brussels for approval. This leaves no time for us or Greek MPs to give feedback on the plan’s content and strategic directions (it’s hefty, at an estimated 2,000 pages!) But we are not giving up! There is still time to act.
CALL TO ACTION!
Follow our suggestions, or invent your own action:
- Inform parliamentarians (all of them or selected ones) that civil society was excluded from all stages of developing the National Recovery Plan and that this is not okay. Call them, email them, use social media, and even fax them!
- Email Deputy Finance Minister Skylakakis demanding full transparency and to be involved in the subsequent phases of the recovery plan.
- Tell Prime Minister Mitsotakis that exclusion is not an option! Explain that a green and just recovery requires transparency and inclusive participation.
- Encourage your peers, colleagues, donors, friends, partners, members, etc. to do the same in their individual capacities. We must all be well-informed, active citizens and make clear to our government that we are following developments closely and will hold them accountable.