Breathing space for Greece and for Europe
The decisions taken last night by the Eurogroup give breathing space to Greece. They make it possible for Greece to pay salaries and pensions in December, to stabilise its banking system and to cover the gap in its budget which is still in deficit. The sacrifices and the suffering of the Greek citizens were not in vain. However, it is clear that there are still major difficulties ahead. There is a lot to be done in order for the Greek economy to get back on the track of recovery and sustainability. Ahead of us lies the implementation of the painful measures, recently voted by the Greek Parliament, in order for structural reforms to advance; their implementation will set the basis for a change in the economy’s course towards growth and jobs.
The decisions taken by the Eurogroup are also a sigh of relief for Europe. The Eurozone demonstrated its willingness to remain strong and the financial mechanisms that we put in place to address the crisis showed that they can respond with flexibility. The European partners took a number of steps demonstrating the Union’s solidarity. But what is of utmost importance is that our creditors, the Troika, the IMF, have finally recognized, albeit indirectly, that the targets of the bailout package for Greece were unattainable and the original estimates were misguided, thus leading to recession and unemployment. Therefore, they recognized that combating the crisis cannot be achieved through recipes of extreme austerity and strict fiscal discipline only. Those of us, within and outside the European Commission, who have defended that austerity is not a one-way route, that it should not be pursued at the expense of growth, and that it should be combined with social policy stabilisers to avoid the prolonged recession and social injustice, are now vindicated. Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog "Ανάσα για την Ελλάδα και την Ευρώπη"