Europe

European press agonises over Greece and euro crisis

Europe is buzzing with comment about Greece's desperate attempt to avoid a debt default, amid widespread fears of economic shockwaves hitting the eurozone as a whole.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou passed one big test on Tuesday - a confidence vote in parliament. But he still has to get another unpopular package of austerity measures adopted, to keep the EU bail-out money coming.

Here is a selection of European media comments on the Greek debt crisis.

Kathimerini (Greece) - liberal daily, commentary by Alexis Papachelas

No one cares about who said what and who's to blame for the fact that consensus between ruling Pasok [Greek Socialists] and New Democracy has not been achieved. The damage the situation between them is causing is what interests people, and especially the fact that this behaviour is making the political system look inadequate and completely immature...

In the Greece of 2011 there is a significant part of the middle class that is colour-blind when it comes to politics. It is also dealing with the crisis in a cool-headed manner and is very well aware of how close Greece is to falling into the abyss.

There was a time when this vital and informed section of society was able to determine the course of developments; now this sector is desperate and wondering where we think we're going with this kind of attitude.

The Irish Times, liberal daily, commentary by Arthur Beesley

Greece will run out of cash without the 12bn euros. Time is running short and patience has run out. In public, ministers laud the Herculean efforts of Papandreou and his ministers. In private, officials make no secret that patience with the Greeks has evaporated. In the bail-out zone, terms and conditions apply.

Yeni Safak (Turkey) - conservative, pro-Islamic daily, commentary by Ibrahim Karagul

The debts of Greece, Portugal and Spain exceeded the payment limits long ago. They will not be able to pay any more. They are bankrupt now...

Next will be Italy, then the UK. We watch how those who called us 'the sick man [of Europe]' 100 years ago are now turning into "sick men" one by one 100 years later.

Liberation (France) - centre-left daily, commentary by Jean Quatremer

A Greek default would sweep away its banks and no doubt would force Athens's partners to recapitalise their banks and institutions exposed to Greek debt. That would dry up credit and would probably trigger a new recession.

So confidence in the euro would be shaken for a long time. And if a country were to leave the euro it would no doubt be the beginning of the end.

The instruments are there on the table: the creation of eurobonds to prevent the markets playing one country off against another, setting up a European finance ministry or boosting the meagre European budget.

But "between federalism and failure I don't know what the Germans will choose", one European official admitted to Liberation.

Spiegel Online (Germany) - centrist news website, commentary by Henrik Mueller

The German government has acted in the crisis as if we were still living in the 1990s, as if there were serious alternatives to today's currency club, as if the financial systems were not so interconnected that doubts about one do not threaten to bring down all the others.

No, from the very start there was no alternative to developing [fiscal] transfers inside the eurozone. Nor was there any alternative to developing political union. But that's unpopular. It's easier to bash the Greeks.

If the euro collapses, Germany will be pilloried - as the nation that could have saved the euro but didn't, for short-sighted, selfish reasons. The damage that that entails can hardly be measured in monetary terms.

El Pais (Spain) - centre-left daily, blog by Lluis Bassets

With Greece now we're reaching the end of the road. We have little of Europe and don't want the little of Europe that we do have. Europeanism is neither attractive nor to anyone's taste.

Nobody dares to demand European solidarity, because even within states hardly anyone dares to call for solidarity. At home, we all want the same social spending with fewer taxes. And in Europe, we want the advantages of belonging to a bigger union which supports us in hard times, but we don't want to pay a cent - we'd rather the neighbour paid.

Above all, we don't like any talk of a transfer union, the big bogeyman of the Germans.