Greece is unfortunately well known as the European country that suffered most from the financial crisis in 2008. Despite the promising development in 2018 it still has not yet recovered fully. In this vulnerability the pandemic hits hard again.
The minimization of social benefits, the bad outlook on the labour market (unemployment rate of 16%) and the breakdown of the tourism triggered the downwards trend of the GDP in 2020 with approx. -11% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
How do the Greeks cope with these challenges? How are his ideas followed up by the population or by political parties?
These and other questions are answered by Olga Pateraki, national coordinator for the ECI in Greece, activist with the Humanist Movement and journalist for Pressenza.
How is the situation regarding social benefits in your country? Why would your country need the UBI?
Olga: In Greece, there are plenty different social benefits including the minimum guarantee income which EU promotes, all of them with a lot of conditions, for a very specific amount of time, not high enough to overcome poverty and some for certain amount of people or even households instead of individuals. They are the exact opposite of UBI, keeping people in poverty and sustaining inequalities.
Since 2010 with the financial crisis and the entry of the country under supervision from the European institutions, Greece had very little control over its financial policies with huge cuts in most sectors resulting in reduced income or even impoverishment of the majority of the population and a degraded social state. The pandemic has accelerated this phenomena once again. I believe UBI along with the strengthening of other public goods and services and human rights are the answer to face these issues.
How do people feel about the idea of an Unconditional Basic Income? Is there a broad knowledge regarding UBI among the population?
Olga: More and more people are starting to hear about UBI in the last years, especially during the pandemic. But still, the idea of UBI, its potential benefits and its transformative aspects are relatively unknown to the majority. In my experience, most people that are learning about UBI are exited, but of course there is also a lot of scepticism since it is such a new idea and topples old and strong values that are still present.
Are political parties supporting the UBI? If yes, which ones and what is their motivation? (liberal/left wing)
Olga: DiEM25, currently in the Greek Parliament, is generally in favor of the idea of UBI with a very specific proposal for how it should be financed through the returns on all capital. Also, the Greens, not in the Greek Parliament, are proposing UBI in their political program. Both parties are in the left wing, supporting policies for more social equality and redistribution of wealth, but they are still, in my opinion, timid when advocating for UBI.
There is also think tank installed in the Nicos Poulantzas Institute, which is doing research on the UBI, Publication by Dimitris Karellas: Universal Basic Income – Part one: What it wants to be
How and also why are you involved in projects and activities promoting UBI?
Olga: I first heard about UBI while working for the international press agency Pressenza and I was really impressed by the idea. It was the first time I was hearing a practical solution to end poverty for good and offer more freedom to all. I got involved with UBI, at first, by writing and translating articles for the Greek edition of Pressenza, promoting our documentary on UBI and later participating in the European Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Incomes throughout the EU with other advocates, forming a group in order to promote the petition and the idea of UBI in Greece.
Do you have one core sentence that explains your motivation or conviction?
Olga: UBI can be a step forward a society free of poverty, less inequalities and more freedom for the human beings to act towards the future, to clarify their purpose and to change any conditions that cause pain and suffering.
Thank you, Olga, for the update on the situation of UBI in Greece!
Some facts about Olga:
Your name: Olga Pateraki
You are living in: Athens, Greece
Your age: 36
Family status: single
Profession: currently unemployed, I am working in civil society organisations
Which is the one thing about you never ever would tell anybody? 😉
I aspire and work for personal and social transformation and that brings both joy and disappointment as it is chained with the process of all.
Olga in a mission at PIKPA Solidarity Refugee Camp in Lesbos
 https://www.statistics.gr/en/home/; 2021-03-02
 https://www.statistics.gr/documents/20181/16865455/LivingConditionsInGreece_1220.pdf/1072b4b0-bfdc-75b7-f0d0-1f6e679e0526; 2021-03-02
Maybe you would go back to school to learn something new, maybe you would find a better house, you could decide to work less or maybe you would simply enjoy the comfort of having some extra money. Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) can grant you that opportunity.
I support UBI4ALL because I am convinced that it provides the support that is needed and releases a lot of creativity. Moreover, it counteracts business models of companies that pay such low wages that their employees still have to top up despite full employment.