An award-winning journalist, Anni Podimata joined the European Parliament in 2007 for the Greek Socialist PASOK. She is a vice-president of the EP and a member of its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). Together with her Austrian EPP colleague, Othmar Karas, Podimata is responsible for Parliament's electoral communication in the run-up to this year's elections.
Your country is going through an unprecedented crisis, yet it has just assumed the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Can Greece, in its current state, really make a difference?
Yes we can, as President Obama would say. Why? Well, this is the fifth Greek Presidency, and all the previous ones were very succesful -- under very different circumstances, of course, but on the other hand, the remit of the Presidency is more limited now. At this crucial point in European history, ahead of arguably the most important elections ever, it is of great significance, first of all for the Greek people but also for the rest of Europe, that Greece is at the helm. In this short period of the next five months we have to do two things.
Firstly, we have to tell the truth and use all our means to explain to the citizens why the European Union is a worthy project. Secondly, Europe needs to change, that's clear, and it will change. We have to make the people realise that it is their choice that will determine the direction of this change. For Greece, the Presidency is also an opportunity to challenge the stereotypes that surround it, by showing its partners that it can work seriously and promote the most crucial pieces of legislation that are still pending by the end of the mandate.
Which ones in particular would you single out?
The second pillar of the banking union, concerning the Single Resolution Mechanism and the single resolution fund. With Greece taking over the negotiations in the three-way meetings, it has the opportunity to facilitate a timely agreement on this very crucial dossier by negotiating creatively and in good faith.
What about the financial transaction tax (FTT), for which you really are the spiritus rector in Parliament, having written the first own-initiative report two years ago, and leading the dossier now that it has come under the enhanced cooperation procedure among 11 member states.
At the moment, the discussions among the 11 member states are difficult. To some extent, these are difficulties that were to be expected. The industry has always...