Portugal’s PM joins Tsipras in Greece to demand change in Europe

With the refugee crisis firmly on the agenda, Portugal’s prime minister António Costa joined forces with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras to sign a memorandum of understanding against austerity.

Giving a joint press conference, the stand is in defiance to all the warnings emanating from troika lenders.

Reporting on the duo’s message, the UK’s Telegraph said the left-wing leaders have declared that Europe must move away from “self-defeating” austerity and embrace “progressive” reform.

Europe is at “a critical crossroads” and needs to decide whether to embrace “closer political, fiscal and social integration” or pursue fragmentation and “narrow national interest”, the PMs explained.

Leaving no doubt as to the path they prefer, Costa and Tsipras said: “We, as prime ministers of two countries with a similar policy experience in the context of their respective adjustment programmes, share the conviction that austerity-only policies are wrong and insufficient to overcome the existing challenges (…) Europe has to change course.

“Instead of merely adjusting to self-defeating competitiveness and austerity measures, our two countries take the decision to closely co-operate at all levels, bilateral and European, to put forward a progressive programme of democratic Eurozone Governance, economic revival, employment creation, centered on quality jobs, and socially just and environmentally responsible growth in Europe and in our countries.”

It was a statement that promises to put a new twist on the dominoes of political power-making and comes at a time when Greece is holding out for additional debt relief on its third bailout in five years.

Ostensibly to discuss the refugee crisis, Costa reiterated Portugal’s willingness to take 6,000 more refugees than originally agreed under Europe’s quota system.

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Photo: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras greets Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa outside the Maximos Mansion during his official visit to Athens on April 11