The European Union must rethink the way it operates after Brexit as member states gang up on Germany over austerity measures, according to a French politician.
An EU-wide policy of austerity enforced from Berlin has led to massive youth unemployment and soaring poverty, devastating many Mediterranean economies.
Now leaders of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Malta plan to seize control with plans to meet in Athens on September 9 to counter the austerity-driven agenda of the union’s northern member states.
Hosted by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the meeting will see the southern leaders face down the big EU nations demanding austerity measures and an open door immigration policy.
Gilles Pargneaux, a French social democrat MEP, claimed Brexit will force member states to “rethink the way we do things” in Europe and strong alliances must now be forged between progressive leaders in the southern states.
He said: “Countries such as France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal face similar challenges: migration, security, proximity of an unstable neighbourhood.
“Issues that justify enhanced cooperation between them.”
He added that action should be engaged at the European Council level as well and admitted that the Franco-German couple plays a major role, saying: “This relationship is essential but it must also assume its contradictions where they exist.”
Sources close to Tsipras – who has frequently clashed with both Angela Merkel and Brussels – claim he believe the time is right to create the strong southern “axis” in a push for a pro-growth agenda.
In April, the leader and the newly-elected Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa signed a joint declaration, calling for an end to austerity policies.
The statement said: “Austerity policies are keeping economies depressed and societies divided.”
Italy’s banking sector is also facing a crisis, having accumulated more than €360 billion in bad loans, while Portugal and Spain are being pressured by the European Commission to cut their deficits below the required three percent of GDP.
The September meeting will see leaders of the seven states discuss the forming of a potential new alliance, in a bid to take on the wealthier northern nations.
A Greek Government source said: “We are seeking dialogue with states that are facing similar problems to Greece.
“The aim is to have a meeting of the heads of southern eurozone countries.
“It’s too early to say if a common platform will emerge.”
Tsipras also said that fellow European states are not giving enough help with the refugee crisis.
The shutdown of Balkan borders, agreed by Brussels, saw over 57,000 refugees and migrants trapped in Greece.
Despite EU promises, only a few thousand refugees have been allowed to relocate to other European states.