Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Greek EU crisis presidency

EN - “Greece, a crisis-crippled presidency”, headlines Libération, as Athens has taken over the EU chair on January 1.

"Still recovering, though economic recovery is in sight, the country takes the head of the Union for six month, as budgetary rigor imposed by the eurozone is still going on", writes Jean Quatremer, the EU correspondent for the French daily. According to Quatremer, who has spent several days in Greece lately,
Greece is coming back from far away, even if it's not out of danger yet. […] It wants to take advantage of its semestrial presidency of the EU, which started yesterday, to show to its creditors they did not spend their money in vain: after four years of austerity the first signals of progress are there. True, the money spent to avoid the country from bankruptcy is breathtaking: 240 billion euro in loans since 2010; private-held debt haircut worth 107 billion euro — the biggest debt restructuration in history — a huge raise in European financial help and a massive EU assistance to rebuild a proper government. […] In the end, even though European and international organisations foresee the recovery rather in 2015, everyone agrees on the fact that Greece begins to "see the light at the end of the tunnel". "No country has ever done as many structural reforms as Greece" in so little time, said a few weeks ago Angel Gurría, the OECD Secretary-general.

Meanwhile, Libération's editorial warns Greece's EU partners to take into account the "exorbitant human and social cost" bared by the Greek population —
Rather than asking new efforts to a population who is not capable of making them, rather than impose without any thinking the same austerity policy, the Europeans should be interested in the government's inefficiencies or in corruption: the deep sicknesses that weight on the Greek society and  threaten its democracy. As the country takes over the EU presidency, European countries — beginning with Germany — cannot satisfy themselves only with austerity's financial and accounting vertues.


  1. I am glad you're quoting Quatremer, my favourite European journalist, with a valuable expertise on EU affairs as well as a real talent for positive criticism. Reading his last interview with Kyriakos Mitsotakis shows there is still a lot to do to reform the state itself as old habits die hard. According to Quatremer the game, for decades, was that the greeks were "faking" paying taxes while the government was "faking" delivering public services. How surreal is that? At such level of sickness, the whole society has to rethink itself and even a currency change won't help much, obviously.

  2. Quand je vois combien il est difficile de réformer l'administration française et la gestion des ministères, je me demande comment les Grecs y arriveront !
    Autre question qui doit venir à l'esprit de tous les Européens :, comment un pays comme la Grèce qui n'arrive pas à se gérer, va-t-il en plus gérer les affaires européennes - même pendant 6 mois seulement - ?

  3. Il y a plusieurs billets intéressants de J.Quatremer sur ce sujet (en français) sur son blog : < >