Europe

Europe's press alarmed by Greece debt crisis

Greek pensioners march in central Athens , protesting new austerity cuts
Image caption Greek people face increasing hardship as a result of austerity measures

European newspapers take a bleak view of the Greek parliament's approval of new austerity measures aimed at preventing bankruptcy.

Some commentators are sceptical that the measures will be enough to halt the downward slide of the Greek economy.

Others focus on the hardship that continued austerity means for the Greek people and the consequences for democracy.

Michael Stuermer in Germany's Die Welt

It has never been a good idea to throw good money after bad. But that is exactly what is being done in the case of Greece... The point has now been reached and passed at which it is no longer the debtor who depends on his creditor, but the other way round. The Greeks know this - and states like Portugal, Spain and even Italy will follow their example. This is called "moral hazard" - in plain German, an invitation to continued mismanagement.

Klaus Hillenbrand in Germany's Die Tageszeitung

Either way, matters will continue to go downhill [in Greece]. This apparent lack of any alternative does not help strengthen democracy and civil society. The danger that political pied pipers - whether palaeo-Stalinist Communists or right-wing nationalists - could profit from the collapse of trust in politics should not be underestimated. With their rigid austerity policy, Europe's politicians are doing their utmost to help these forces acquire momentum. It is true that there is no danger of dictatorship in Greece, but these are not good times for democracy either.

Michael Martens in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The approval of the reforms by parliament is only a small task compared to that of applying the laws. And even if that succeeds, there is no guarantee that national bankruptcy can be averted. Many ministers clearly want reform, but they have so far been unable to overcome their officials' born-to-rule thinking and obstruction.

Francois Sergent in France's Liberation

European intervention has taken an odious form: a summons for the prime minister, the establishment of a humiliating surveillance of accounts, obvious contempt for the nation's sovereignty, especially from Germany.

In the end, most experts do not believe in European remedies that shrink even further an economy that is already in recession and hence, ultimately exacerbate the situation in Greece, which already is very serious. Today, it is Greece's citizens, including the poorest and most vulnerable ones, who are paying the price. For how much longer will they accept the unacceptable?

Fabio Liberti in Le Monde

One gets the impression that Greek political parties thought that under no circumstances would the EU let them fall on account of the domino effect that could affect Italy and Spain… While some people believe that we should not abandon Greece in order to avoid the domino effect on the rest of the eurozone, others believe that the markets have understood that Greece is a special case and that Italy and Spain are countries with different economic systems. The Greeks should therefore pay for their past mistakes.

Blogger Laurent Pinsolle in Marianne

It is incredible that the leaders of Greece have agreed to proceed with an internal devaluation in order to restore their country's competitiveness. This is the most brutal solution, as far as the people are concerned… A much simpler solution would be to do away with the euro and return to the devalued drachma... Exit would not be painless, but it would allow the country to recover faster. The EU's problem is that leaving the euro would mean an end to the single currency.

Angelo Panebianco in Italy's Corriere della Sera

Greece now has its back to the wall. It's highly probable bankruptcy threatens serious consequences (which are now giving Merkel cause for concern) for the EU and for the sustainability of the financial system. The consequences for Greece itself are even more serious.

Ezio Mauro in Italy's La Repubblica

Athens in flames, parliament approves the package of cuts and sacrifices, the markets applaud. And the people, we all ask, and the citizens? It seems that the new European order can be installed regardless of consensus, of public opinion, of confidence. Europe presents itself as a large bank, as a cold-blooded institution, an arbitrary regulator without any soul, dominated by only one religion, that of criteria, and engaged in only one battle, that of the containment of debt, the primary and overriding emergency of the continent.

Vittorio Da Rold in Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore

The Greek parliament has voted for the austerity reforms (the fifth package in three years), but the now resigned Greeks are not at all convinced that all this will be enough. They have heard too often that this is the definitive set of measures, only to wake up the next morning to hear that in Berlin someone has asked for yet more.

Luca Cifoni in Italy's Il Messaggero

The point at issue, the real problem, is that the bitter medicine imposed by European and global institutions may not be enough to ward off catastrophe for Greece... harsh measures that have been approved previously have, in many cases, remained on paper only, or at least have not been fully implemented.

Editorial in Spain's El Pais

The violent demonstrations in Athens, which broke out while the parliament was debating and voting, reflect the fact that the Greeks' capacity for sacrifice is reaching its limit.

Editorial in Spain's La Vanguardia

Sunday's violent protests in Athens were possibly a sign of Greek unease faced with the prospect of a change in the country's model driven from abroad, something that raises great concern in a country that historically has had problems with its neighbours and difficult relations with France or the UK.

Article in Hungary's Nepszava

The Greek crisis and the way it has been handled by the EU has highlighted numerous weaknesses within the union, but at the same time it shows the lengths to which economic and political powers will go to keep the EU in one piece. Abandoning the Greeks would be tantamount to jettisoning the eurozone and the EU.

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