The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Greece faces deficit crisis

With a deficit of over 12 percent of its gross domestic product, Greece faces dire economic straits. It has become the European Union’s biggest financial liability, and because of its threat to the greater economy of the Eurozone some speculate that the country could be asked to relinquish its E.U. status. According to the BBC, much of the speculation surrounding Greece’s possible departure from the Eurozone comes from a paper published on the European Central Banks Web site. The report, written by Phoebus Athanassiou, caused controversy in European financial circles.

“Recent developments have, perhaps, increased the risk of secession (from the Eurozone), however modestly, as well as the urgency of addressing it as a possible scenario,” said Athanassiou to the BBC.

Though the paper did not mention Greece directly, it is clear that the paper is addressing Greece’s ongoing financial crisis, as well as that of several other countries in the European Union.

Athanassiou also said that, according to the European Union constitution, an expulsion of a country from the European Union is next to impossible, and would require a complete reformatting of the European Union, and Eurozone. However, a voluntary departure, especially one encouraged by other members, is still a possibility.

The President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, tersely expressed his opinion of the likelihood that Greece would be expelled.

“I don’t comment on absurd speculation,” he said to CNN.

The European financial commission, according to CNN, approved a series of measures proposed by the Greek government to decrease their deficit by the end of the 2010 fiscal year. The measures include cutting the cost of civil service salaries, as well as general budget cuts across the Greek financial spectrum. With these measures and the approval of the European Central Bank, it seems very unlikely that Greece will leave the Eurozone.

In a Feb. 10 press release from Belgium, E.U. President Herman Van Rompuy mentioned that while the European Union would not be directly lending money to Greece, individual European countries would do so on an individual basis.

Meanwhile the Greek public has shown its displeasure with the country’s financial situation. Over 5,000 civil servants marched through Athens on Feb. 9, according to Sky News, protesting proposed government pay cuts, and shouting the common slogan, “Let the oligarchy pay for the crisis, not us.”

“Unfortunately, a long history of deep-seated corruption, which until very recently has not been viewed by Greeks as anything other than standard operating procedure, has made Greeks very distrustful of and cynical about their government,” said junior Madeleine Straubel, who is currently studying abroad in Greece.

Painting a different picture than Sky News and CNN, Straubel pointed out that despite distrust with their government’s management of the crisis, the Greek people still value their place in the European Union.

E.U. financial monitoring groups will be keeping a close eye on Greece as it works to meet its first goal of reducing its 12.7 percent deficit by four percent in 2010. However, while its debt may be the largest, Greece is not alone in its financial difficulties. According to the Wall Street Journal, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain face similar problems, which, if neglected, could also derail the European economy.

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