I'm currently attending a very interesting event on Microfinance held by the European Commission. You can access the programme and other material here.
What is even more interesting is that it's absolutely crawling with my fellow Greeks. Although some will be Eurocrats based in Brussels, most travel in groups of two or three and keep referring to 'our guys' in a very familiar manner. Many have that usual mixture of timidity and intensity in their faces - the mark of a person used to delivering fawning praise and then wallowing in impotent rage.
No doubt my compatriots are on a fishing expedition for even more yummy subsidies that we can continue to feed our clientelist regional investment structures despite being insolvent. I suspect they are particularly keen to hear more abour JESSICA.
For the last time Europe. Stop bailing us in!!!
UPDATE: It's actually JEREMIE they're into - this person, employed by our Department for Economics and Competitiveness and Maritime Affairs, (now Regional Development and Competitiveness) piped up in a Q&A section, and even managed to make an unintended 'racial' remark, thanking an Indian panellist for the 'spicy' note she added to the proceedings. Actually the panellist had been recounting how she managed to escape a life of domestic violence and overcome implicit and explicit racism in order to become a successful entrepreneur.
It's like watching Borat.
However, the manner of the question was not as bad as the content; my compatriot appeared exasperated at the discussion on microfinance and its supposed potential benefits to employment and growth in Europe. 'I want to talk about the elephant in the room. What are we talking about?' she demanded, 'We're talking about access to finance! About getting finance to people that NEED it, not about employment or growth.'
And that, my friends, is Greece in a nutshell. No point discussing how such a scheme might self-finance by reducing benefits payments or increasing tax revenues for member states [ed. personally I am sceptical of that anyway]. The point it that some people NEED money and must HAVE it! Give us our subsidies and shut up already.