Tag Archives: EFSF

What does the eurozone deal really mean for Greece?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

The European Commission announced this week that it’s prepared to provide 95 percent of the funding for structural projects in Greece. Members of an EC task force are due to arrive in Athens later this month to oversee the implementation of reforms. Ministers, meanwhile, are trying to put together legislation that will convince Greece’s lenders that it is taking its role seriously.

In one way or another, these actions all stem from the deal agreed between the eurozone and Greece in Brussels last month. Even though the agreement has set in motion such a wide-ranging process, there is still great uncertainty about what the agreement on July 21 actually means for all those involved and how it will benefit Greeks. There is a sense that Greece and its eurozone partners are trying to navigate through a storm with a patchwork map and some untested instruments to help them.

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Can Greek crisis make euro rather than break it?

It may not seem likely as we head toward Thursday’s eurozone summit but the European Union could be thanking Greece in a few years’ time. Granted, the mutual appreciation and back slapping seems a distant dream given the current angst over the debt crisis, with Italy becoming the latest euro country to run into trouble almost two years after Greece became the first member of the single currency area to hit a wall. Yet the crisis has made the European Union, and the eurozone countries in particular, re-examine their economic and monetary union. The euro area is experiencing a make-or-break moment and while there are some who fear the consequences of the debt crisis are so wide and deep they will lead to the breakup of the single currency as we know it, there are plenty who believe, and are working on, this period of turbulence being the moment that really makes the euro.

“What we’re witnessing is that the EU and the eurozone are at a turning point,” says Jens Bastian, a senior economic research fellow at the Athens-based think tank ELIAMEP (Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy). “The debt crisis is not only forcing the 17 eurozone members to pool their resources in an unprecedented manner but also to readjust economic sovereignty. That was unthinkable just a year ago.”

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In euro’s moment of destiny, bold may not be bold enough for Greece

Graffiti by Absent

Eurozone leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday for an emergency summit whose main aim will be to agree on a second bailout package for debt-burdened Greece as it becomes increasingly obvious that the current system of providing interest-bearing loans to Athens in return for austerity measures and structural reforms is not viable for much longer.

The summit is shaping up as a pivotal moment in the single currency’s history because in attempting to address the Greek situation, eurozone leaders are set to adopt unprecedented measures that could pave the way for a much more radical and comprehensive approach to the debt crisis.

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How Greece inadvertently ducked under the rollover bullet

Ilustration by Manos Symeonakis

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced two weeks ago that French banks had agreed to participate in a rollover of Greek debt, it seemed a rare moment of relief in the country’s strained efforts to tackle its fiscal crisis. “The idea is that we won’t let down Greece and that we’ll defend the euro, which is in the interest of us all,” said Sarkozy, reflecting a sense of purpose and unity that the European Union has often lacked over the last 18 months.

However, the French proposal — which we will come to — soared briefly on the wings of hope before crashing into the immovable obstacle of reality. Two days of talks between bankers and insurers last week led to the Paris blueprint largely being discarded. However, the rejection of the French scheme appears to have helped Greece dodge a debt bullet. The more experts scrutinized the French plan, the more they realized it was a seriously flawed proposal that would worsen Greece’s debt problems.

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Is Greece drowning in Europe’s fruit salad?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

“Europe is like a fruit salad,” says Frank Schwalba-Hoth, perched on the edge of his seat at the European Parliament’s cafe in Brussels. Normally, our surroundings would be a hive of activity but this week the MEPs have buzzed off to Strasbourg, the Parliament’s other home. But even if there had been a throng of politicians from the 27 member states around, the topic of discussion — Will Greece survive? Will the EU survive? — would have been too absorbing for us to notice.

Schwalba-Hoth, a German politician who was a founding member of the country’s Green Party and served as an MEP in the 1980s, is engaging company. He now works as a networker and consultant in Brussels and his knowledge of the workings and history of Europe’s institutions is unrivaled. He believes the Greek debt crisis and the threat it poses to the euro is just the latest in a long list of challenges that the EU, which traces its roots back to the European Coal and Steel Community founded in 1951, has faced in its long history.

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Independence Day

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

Every year, Greece celebrates its independence on March 25. It marks the date when the revolution against Ottoman rule began in 1821. This March 25, though, the proposition of Greece standing on its own will not seem so attractive. Should the European Union leaders’ summit on March 24-25 end in disappointment — as many expect it to — debt-stricken Greece will be left dangerously isolated.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has spent the last few weeks furiously trying to cultivate contacts with his European counterparts — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy — in the hope they might be able to sway opinions ahead of the March 25 summit and a meeting of leaders from eurozone countries on Friday, March 11.

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