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  Debt crisis in Greece

  28 Debates

Greece officially concluded its ESM financial assistance programme this week. For the first time in eight years it will have to finance itself on the markets. Although its economic data has improved of late, one in five Greeks is still unemployed and the national debt is still at 180 percent of GDP. Can the country get back on its feet on its own?

Roughly a year before its third bailout package comes to an end Greece has returned to the financial markets. After a three-year absence Athens issued a five-year bond on Tuesday and accrued around three billion euros. Despite this success many journalists still believe the country has a long way to go before it attains its goal of financial independence.

Under the blazing summer sun rubbish is piling up all over Greece. For more than a week public sector workers who collect rubbish have been on strike. They want thousands of municipal workers on short-term contracts to be given permanent contracts. Politicians are discussing whether rubbish collection shouldn't be privatised nationwide, as has already been done in some cities. Commentators also say this wouldn't be the worst option.

The Eurogroup ministers have agreed to give Greece further loans to the tune of 8.5 billion euros but failed to reach a consensus on another topic: contrary to the wishes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) they won't make a decision on debt relief until 2018. For Europe's commentators the outcome of the negotiations is anything but a happy end.

Athens has agreed to a new austerity package in return for further bailout loans. The 3.6 billion euros in austerity measures include pension cuts of up to 18 percent and a lower tax-exempt amount. Greece is due to repay over seven billion euros in loans in July. Is the agreement a sensible compromise or a pact with a destructive impact?

The Greek parliament approved a new austerity plan on Thursday evening. The package is based on a recent deal with Athens' creditors and foresees, in exchange for another tranche of bailout aid, cutbacks amounting to 4.9 billion euros that will mainly affect pensioners and the middle class. Europe's media complain that over the years the austerity programmes have failed to achieve their goal.

When the Eurozone's finance ministers meet on June 15 they are supposed to finally reach a decision on new loans for Greece. Concerned by the lack of agreement among the creditors Europe's commentators are less than optimistic about the future.

At a meeting in Malta Athens and its international creditors have cleared another hurdle on the path to new loans for the debt-ridden country. The Greek state is to cut spending by around two percent of the GDP as of 2019. Now Greece faces more austerity, some commentators write in annoyance. Others believe the deal will help stabilise the crisis-hit country.

Athens and the Eurogroup ministers have agreed that delegates of the creditors will travel to Athens to reassess the stipulated reforms in a new move aimed at resolving the row over Greek debt. At the same time Athens has consented to carry out further reforms that were a prerequisite for new bailout loans. Observers don't expect the situation in Greece to improve and look back on how the crisis has evolved.

The row over financial aid for Greece is once again heating up. The Euro Group is set to endorse the payment of the next credit tranche on February 20. However, the creditors are still at odds over debt relief and tougher austerity measures, which Wolfgang Schäuble in particular is calling for. Some commentators take the German Finance Minister to task, while others criticise the EU for indulging in wishful thinking in election year 2017.

For people in Greece the new year has begun with various tax hikes. Coffee, cigarettes, fuel and other products have become more expensive. The state is hoping to raise an additional 2.45 billion euros per year with the new tax measures. Greek journalists see the people at the mercy of the creditors and doubt that the economy will recover.

The Greek parliament will vote today on a Christmas bonus for poor pensioners. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to use around 617 million euros of the primary surplus to give roughly 1.6 million Greeks with pensions of less than 850 euros a month a thirteenth monthly payment. Is this an urgent measure to help struggling pensioners or the start of the next election campaign?

The Eurozone finance ministers agreed on Monday to certain measures that will give Greece a little more time to repay its debts. At the same time they insisted that Athens must negotiate further austerity measures. This latest agreement is only seemingly good news for the country, commentators conclude.

The row over debt relief for Greece has once again flared up among the country's creditors in the run-up to the next meeting of the Euro Group on December 5. EU Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici held out the prospect of debt relief in view of the reforms that have already been carried out. Speaking at a bank congress German Finance Minister Schäuble, by contrast, accused the country of lacking the will to push through necessary measures. Are the Greeks suffering from too many or too few reforms?

The Greek parliament has approved a series of cutbacks and tax hikes in order to secure the release of fresh loans from the country's creditors. The measures also include an automatic debt brake and a privatisation fund that will administer and sell state property. The last measure in particular is a source of heated debate in the Greek media.

The decision to give Greece new bailout loans is based on a compromise: the debt relief on which the IMF has made its continued participation in the bailout programme contingent but which Germany rejects won't be decided until 2018. The next crisis has simply been postponed, commentators object, speculating that the upcoming elections in Germany are the reason for this delay.

The finance ministers of the Eurozone have decided to release just part of the agreed next instalment of the bailout loan to Greece. Athens will receive 1.1 billion euros now, while the remaining 1.7 billion could be paid out by the end of October. Commentators call for a final decision in the row over Greece's debt.

A year ago, at the height of the Greek crisis, the government in Athens introduced capital controls to prevent a bank run which would lead to the banks' collapse. The controls have been eased but not entirely lifted. The Greek media are still at odds over their effectiveness.

The next decision on Greece is to be reached at a special meeting of the Eurozone finance ministers on May 9. According to EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, the creditors and Athens are "99 percent of the way" towards agreeing on a reform package. Commenters suspect that in view of the threat of Brexit the EU wants to avoid a new dispute at any cost.

Alexis Tsipras was re-elected by a large majority as the president of Syriza at the party's conference in Athens. He adopted an aggressive tone in his speech and criticised the austerity policy the country's creditors are imposing on Greece. This show of unity can't conceal the fact that the party's approval ratings are plunging and the Greeks' dissatisfaction is growing, journalists observe.

The IMF has presented a new set of proposals in the dispute over the participation of the International Monetary Fund in a third bailout package for Athens. It is willing to make further concessions to Greece by deferring repayments until 2040 and freezing interest rates. Is this the solution to the Greek debt crisis?

The left-wing Syriza party won the general election a year ago with the promise to put an end to the austerity policy. Today Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has implemented many of the creditors' reforms and terms. Commentators take stock.

Athens and the international creditors on Tuesday agreed on the fundamentals of a new bailout package of up to 86 billion euros. Some commentators see this as a glimmer of hope that could usher in an end to the crisis. Others are convinced that Greece will need more money and a debt haircut.

The parliament in Athens approved on Wednesday night the austerity measures agreed to in Brussels - albeit without a government majority. In the meantime the IMF has demanded debt relief for Greece. Billions in new debts won't help get the country out of its crisis, some commentators write. Others praise the parliament's decision and urge Athens to use the time gained to implement reforms.

Resistance to the austerity plans is growing in Greece after the agreement with the Euro Group. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will presumably need votes from the opposition to push the agreement through parliament. The creditors are humiliating Greece and stipulating unreasonable demands, some commentators write. Others praise the agreement as a chance to get Greece back on the road to recovery.

Athens formally requested a new bailout from the ESM fund on Wednesday. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also announced that he would present new reform proposals this Thursday. Some commentators appeal to Merkel and some to Renzi to finally force a solution to the Greek crisis. Others point out that the national parliaments will prevent another bailout programme for Athens.

The Greek voters gave a clear no to the creditors' austerity demands in the referendum on Sunday. Some commentators believe it's time for a Grexit, and that this is not the worst solution. Others still want a deal and call for a Marshall Plan and a debt conference as alternative solutions in the debt dispute.

Greece has failed to make a 1.55 billion euro payment to the IMF that was due at the end of June. Prior to this the Eurozone finance ministers rejected an appeal to extend the country's bailout programme by a few days. The Eurozone has committed an inexcusable mistake by driving the country into insolvency, some commentators write. Others call for an end to indulgence for the debt-ridden country.