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Is the financial plan to help Greece a good one?

08:49 UK time, Friday, 26 March 2010

All 16 eurozone countries have backed a financing plan to help debt-laden Greece, which will include IMF money. Is it the right strategy?

The joint eurozone and IMF bailout programme envisages strict conditions and requires the unanimous agreement of the 16 eurozone nations to release loans. But the safety net, of up to 22bn euros (£20bn), would only be used if market lending to Greece dried up.

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said the deal was significant "not just for Greece, but for the stability of the eurozone".

Is this deal the best solution? What does the decision mean for the European Union? Are you in Greece - do you welcome the plan?

This debate is closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    There's an old saying about "throwing good money after bad".

    Unless Greece sorts out its public finances, this sticky plaster solution will mean nothing.

    Pre-Euro, economies could choose to be irresponsible as they only really damaged themselves. Greece (and others) have taken advantage of the protective coat of Germany et al to continue with their frivolous spending regimes and innate inability to be economically prudent.

  • Comment number 2.

    Don't be too condescending abourt Greece. Britain is in a far worse position thanks to 13 years of economic mismanagement.

  • Comment number 3.

    Welcome to the bank of Britain tell us a sob story good enough and win a fantastic prize.
    In all the years we gave to india,china, and all the other up coming countries.. have they ever gave one penny to another country that needs help.

    I'am sick of our country being the first to put their hand up.
    Why do we feel the need to buy friends in this country.
    The school teachers story comes to mind here..
    Give an apple get a clip around the ear.. give opera tickets get a smile.. give Diamonds and pretend to be your friend till grade day!.

  • Comment number 4.

    If the EU has to question whether it will help Greece, what is the point of having an EU?

  • Comment number 5.

    The UK needs to sort its own finances out before fixing other countries. Had we joined the Euro it would be a different matter, but we didn't.

  • Comment number 6.

    As with any bail-out, it will only help the people on top continue to feather their nests, while everyone else makes sacrifices.

  • Comment number 7.

    Before making my comment, I have to confess to being something of an Helenophile; I speak Greek as a second language, and have a bolt hole on the Aegean coast to escape to when I need to chill out. Basically, the whole thing is embarassing for Greece, and even though the economy has been mismanaged for years, the country is now going to be run from Belgium. What they really need to do is take control of their own destiny and get back on track. To do this they need to devalue the currency. To do this, they need to withdraw from the Euro and reinstate the drachma. The sooner they do this, the better off they will be. But I suspect that EU integrationists will see this as an opportunity to increase centralized financial 'government'.

  • Comment number 8.

    The Euro currency is like have a joint-account with checkbooks issued to all the Eurozone nations as if being neighbours is a good reasons for sharing your bank account with them.

    The problem is that it is Germany and few of the north European nations who go out and earn a living to put money into the joint-account. Greece and some other weak Eurozone economies simply draw down the money from the account and have wasted it on frivolous spending like allowing civil servants 14 month paychecks and being able to retire at 61.

    No one in their right mind would let their neighbours have access to their bank account let alone trust them not to steal from the account.

    That is what Germany has done in the past and is committed to doing now for Portugal, Spain and even possibly Italy which has a budget dificit actually worse than Greece.

    The German citizens must be hopping mad with their government as they earn the money and Greece has gone and spent all the joint-account money and now needs the Germans to work harder to earn more!

  • Comment number 9.

    "2. At 10:25am on 26 Mar 2010, Edwin Schrodinger wrote:

    Don't be too condescending abourt Greece. Britain is in a far worse position thanks to 13 years of economic mismanagement."

    What a ridiculous statement. I can never understand why people constantly feel the need to make absurd exaggerations.

    After all, what happened to our country being "finished" in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's? When the same people were making dire prophecies of doom then too.

    Whats more I have to doubt their competency to even make such calls. Many of the same people kept us out of the Euro, which in terms of long-term economic risk, has to have been the single most dangerous and costly decision of the past 13 years.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm sorry but I would really be embarrassed to comment on the financial situation in Greece when our own incompetetent government and financiers have managed to make the United Kingdom's situation so much worse.

    In some ways I thank God that we are sufficiently removed from the EU that our profligate politico's can't grovel for aid from Brussels. One ray of sunshine on the horizon is that the forthcoming major public services cuts and job losses just might finally teach our electorate that everything recent Socialist government's have ever attempted soon hurts their own supporters the most.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well - the great and good of the EU can make public back-slapping pronouncmements of unity about the deal that they've brokered - but I hope they don't think we're fooled for one minute.
    Its all window dressing - the IMF-backed deal doesn't even kick in until Greece shouts 'Help..! We're in trouble..' - by which time basically its too late.
    The euro is doomed - maybe not now, but eventually the Germans, particularly, will say: 'We've had enough'. Oh - there'll be a great deal of fiddling with the rules to cope with all the Eurozone countries who are currently breaking them - but eventually the financial markets will smell a rat and put more and more pressure on the currency.
    One-size-fits-all was never going to work long term...

  • Comment number 12.

    Considering the gravity of the situation, this is best option available to us to pick Greece out of Bankruptcy through use of our common hand no doubt but why and how this Country became a victim of the trap being almost always neutral with only desiring to see its own Business grow steadily within the Country. Irrespective of what help we provide or extend to them; is the Country well prepared to block all its loopholes not to allow draining of the fund so arranged while on circulation to force them to raise a second demand? If they did so already, we are duty bond to extend appropriate help to them as deem fit to recover from their present crisis of financial trouble to attract more value to the fund so earned by others staying elsewhere.

    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 13.

    It was only Sunday when Merkel was saying there will be no bail out for Greece, now she is praising the Greek bailout ..

    I am confused.

  • Comment number 14.

    It seems to me that the sooner we drop the Eurozone crap then the better off we would all be.

  • Comment number 15.

    GREECE - You voted for socialist and this is what socialists do. They spend all of your money (mostly on pet projects, spin and back patting exercises). Then they take loans out in your name and spend all of that too. Then they leave.If you or I did this to another person, we would be in some serious trouble.
    What is really needed to curb this behaviour is 'actual' accountability. The people who have gotten the country in so much debt and mismanaged it should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives and all assets stripped. Its the only way to make sure these situations never arise.

  • Comment number 16.

    5. At 10:45am on 26 Mar 2010, Andy McDonald wrote:

    The UK needs to sort its own finances out before fixing other countries. Had we joined the Euro it would be a different matter, but we didn't.

    ------------------------------------------

    Had we joined the Euro we would be the same as greece. We would be under the control of the EU (france would love that) because our gov cant manage an economy. At least we had options far beyond what greece had. Also the EU debated helping greece. If it was the UK they probably wouldnt help unless they had unanimous control of our country. You only need to listen to the french presidents to hear how much they hate and envy the UK.

    It was the french who didnt let the EU invite us to begin with because they feared we would take over and the french PM making nasty comments about our good decision not to join the euro. Who needs allies like these who are late to the war on terror and are not noticable on the field.

  • Comment number 17.

    The German Chancellor Angela Merkel was correct in being counter to Frances inclination for the European Union to pick up the tab for Greece excess. It is difficult for family at times to not only to demand adherence to previously agreed rules of discipline let alone enforce them consistently without favor.

    The politics played out in Greeks streets indicates any largess on Frances part will raise expectations of Greek citizens that someone else will pick up the tab for their excessive fiscal behavior now and in the future. Such an action will not encourage the fiscal constraint required. It will simply be expected to place a growing inequitable financial burden on the rest of the European community.

    Given the European community does not come up with the level of funding the Greek citizens on the street demand – then what – it creates further European division not only between Greece and Germany but between the other European states as well.

    Angela Merkel clearly understands it is important for countries in the European community to realise they are directly responsible for their own fiscal failures and like any other country should not think for one minute they should and will be bailed out simply because the European community does not want to be seen as failing because of one or more renegade states. Failure of one is not as some would have us believe failure of all.

    The IMF should have been called in to deal with Greece’s financial excess like any other country as I believe this is the only way to disconnect the blame game of the Greek citizens against fellow European Community members, such as Germany, for their troubles and more importantly get Greece to actually face and be held accountable for its actions.

  • Comment number 18.

    The Greeks should sell off their islands to pay for the mismanagement of their economy.

  • Comment number 19.

    Put it like this... if you had a car that repeatedly failed its MOT, how much longer would you keep throwing money at it, before you decided that it's time to get rid of it and get a new car.

    The same goes for the Euro. It's been doomed to failure from the start. Maybe, one day, when the EU is exposed for the Communist regime that it really is, we can go back to how things were before.

  • Comment number 20.

    I see the EU as a house of cards. The issue of the Greek debt and the proposed bail out by the 16 Eurozone countries (of which the UK is not part) will show the strength or weakness of that "house". Personally speaking, I think it will lead to a collapse of the "house" as individual national economies at this moment in time are under extra pressure due to the recessionary influence of the global recession.

  • Comment number 21.

    The best thing for Greece would be to exit from the eurozone, bring back inexpensive holidays resulting in a cure it's financial troubls.

  • Comment number 22.

    At 11:26am on 26 Mar 2010, in_the_uk wrote:
    Had we joined the Euro we would be the same as greece. We would be under the control of the EU (france would love that) because our gov cant manage an economy. At least we had options far beyond what greece had. Also the EU debated helping greece. If it was the UK they probably wouldnt help unless they had unanimous control of our country. You only need to listen to the french presidents to hear how much they hate and envy the UK.


    Can you give examples, please? All the French Presidents I have heard admire and respect the UK, though do not always see eye to eye on many policies, which is what you would expect between most countries, allied or otherwise.


    It was the french who didnt let the EU invite us to begin with because they feared we would take over and the french PM making nasty comments about our good decision not to join the euro. Who needs allies like these who are late to the war on terror and are not noticable on the field.


    It's nearly 50 years since the French objected to the UK joining the EEC and that was largely down to De Gaulle. Once he was out of the way the French supported UK membership once Heath negotiated entry.

    The idea often expressed here that the EU in general and France in particular is out to gain "control" of the UK, but not, apparently, of any other country, is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 23.

    I spend about a quarter of my year in Greece; I love the country but I do know that in addition to Greeks being extremely good at tax avoidance, they are also very good at wasting public money (from the EU)on half-baked projects that rarely get more than 80% finished. I think external accountants should move in to monitor the economy and bring a semblance of control to the Greek tax collection system.

  • Comment number 24.

    I was born before WWII and one of my earliest memories is seeing German bombers raining down bombs on Norwich, now Germany and France et al are raining down money on Greece; I would say the situation is much improved.

  • Comment number 25.

    Comment 2. It is not the UK helping Greece, but the EU. As we do not have the Euro, we do not get a say on any help given to other EU Members.

    Comment 16. We actually joined a common market, not a Federal State of Europe, where all policies are decided by an unelected parliment.

    comment 17. Well said, and superbly put.

    Now to the question at hand. Should Greece have been bailed out? Yes they should. If it hadn't then it would have affected all of us. The economic recovery, (are we really having one), would have been reversed and therefore damaging to not just Europe, but the rest of the World. You must remember, the world is a different place now. It is a Global economy. What happens in Greece may have an affect in South America.

  • Comment number 26.

    smoke and mirrors, it's all just numbers which are meaningless, designed to keep the oiks in their place. If all the countries in the world are in debt, then who to? let's all agree to default, if anyone is going to suffer, it will be some rich thieves that got us in this mess, so who cares?
    Cancel all debt worldwide now and start again, it would help billions and hinder a few.
    Sigh... but, like turkeys, you're all going to vote for xmas again aren't you?
    gobble,gobble

  • Comment number 27.

    Common currency without common treasury is quite a joke.
    Problems just start...

  • Comment number 28.

    It would make a mockery of the EU if a rescue plan wasn't deployed. Is this not one of the fundamental points of being in any 'Union'?

    Besides, it's easy for other people to say the Greeks should be left to sort themselves out but let's remember that when the general election is out of the way in this country, the party in power will show all of us just how bad the finances are. At the moment we're all in the dream world of Labour's cover up.

    in 1997, we had 900,000 civil servants, today we have 6 million in Britain. When half of them are laid off, we'll need the EU more than ever before.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Euro was, and still continues to be, a bizarre and divisive experiment enacted by an unelected EU Commission; who imagined that an ancient Europe, full of ancient culture and individual ways of trading could operate with a single currency like the still 'new world' USA?

    No is no going back - or is there?

    Either way, if a country is invited to join the EU they have no choice, right now, but to adopt the Euro. It's painful and radically flawed by everything said above?

  • Comment number 30.

    Why should our tax money go to help other countries who have the capability and capacity to be at least as prosperous as we are, and maybe more so. It is a very bad plan

  • Comment number 31.

    Jose Manuel Barroso: "Where there is a will, there is a way, and it's the European way" which, in my opinion, will NEVER include one cent in IMF money. I suspect it was Merkel who stuck the IMF in the deal just to irritate France.
    Let’s be clear: There’s no bail-out happening; there is simply a bail-out "mechanism" in place, which in all liklihood will not be used because Greece has undertaken severe fiscal retraint. Greece has done this because debt/GDP is 12.7% (whereas EU rules require something closer to 3%).
    Did you happen to notice a country ahead of Greece in debt/GDP ratio? Yep, that would be the UK at 13%.
    Greece has enacted unpopular measures to curb its deficit, including a freeze on public sector wages, pension reforms and increases in fuel taxes. Has the UK done enough? Personally, I don't think it has.
    Is it fair that some countries must institute austerity. No, I don't think it's fair, but attaining justice, straightening things out - especially financially entangled things - has always taken the patience of Job and lots and lots of time.
    The Euro hit a 10-month low against the dollar on Wednesday after a credit downgrade on Portugal. Portugal is floating down the same river as Greece, debt at 9.3% of GDP. Hmmm, why Portugal and not the UK? The answer is supposed to lie somewhere in a country's potential for economic growth.
    German taxpayers are fiercely opposed to bailing out Greece, which is burdened by a deficit of 12.7% of GDP - more than four times the official eurozone limit. Greece’s mistake: it reduced the debt that showed on the balance sheets by using reasonably straightforward currency and interest rate swaps. Swaps - such a little word - with such a Frankenstein patch-work of built-in catastrophe!
    The swap rates were “off-market”, calculated to deliver Greece cash up front in exchange for more cash in the future (to act like a loan without actually being a loan).
    What company acted with Greece (you cannot “swap” alone): GOLDMAN SACHS.
    Goldman had private knowledge that Greece was in much worse shape than its public appearance would suggest, and it used that knowledge in the derivative market to “bet against” Greece. With a friend like that...
    So, the key question is this: Did Goldman Sachs use insider information about Greek’s real financial shape to "short" Greece in 2010?
    I think we know the answer.
    But knowing the answer, and untangling the financial octopus in order to present evidence in Court is another matter. I know that Brussels has the capability to get the untangling done.
    The vast bulk of AIG's CDS-generation "helped" European banks get capital relief under Basel rules. The question becomes why? Why not go back to Brussels and explain: this rule is causing us to be unable to lend; this rule is requiring too much capitalization right now. Why go to companies like Goldman Sachs? I could make a list of countries that went to companies like Goldman Sachs. The UK would likely shrug, until I said that UK itself went to companies like Goldman Sacks, and the only reason the UK is a step above Greece is its better potential for GDP growth. So, it behooves the UK to make sure that UK GDP grows.
    The American Feds are investigating. Chuckle.
    The SEC is investigating. Guffaw.
    Even Brussels is investigating. Yep, and the Basel Folk will get to the bottom of this. Even when (not if) the investigators uncover evil-doers, the Basel Folk have to tackle with the precision of a brain surgeons because the world economy is still in a "fragile" state, and...who would be keeping it in a "fragile" state, who would be gambling in derivative trading?
    I am NOT a CDS demonizer; I don’t condemn their use as long as the cards are on the table; everyone knows the rules. The deck is not stacked, and all cheaters get shot.

  • Comment number 32.

    '3. At 10:35am on 26 Mar 2010, Ossie wrote:
    Welcome to the bank of Britain tell us a sob story good enough and win a fantastic prize.
    In all the years we gave to india,china, and all the other up coming countries.. have they ever gave one penny to another country that needs help.

    I'am sick of our country being the first to put their hand up.'


    Haha!! Try READING the story before commenting on it. We aren't involved in any of it. It's all down to the Eurozone. Any opportunity to run down the government! Don't let the facts get in the way, will you?!

  • Comment number 33.

    "GREECE - You voted for socialist and this is what socialists do. They spend all of your money (mostly on pet projects, spin and back patting exercises)"

    I think you will find that it was the previous conservative Government who did all the things you mention. Before 2004 the country was in a better position. The current socialist administration has accepted to commit political suicide by imposing the strictest and most austere measures the country has ever seen. In other words, they will clean up the mess AND receive the hostility of the people who will see their incomes shrink.

    As a Greek I feel totally embarrassed by this situation and the only thing I can say to the rest of the European people is that not everyone in Greece is a tax evader or a lazy Zorbas. We work as hard as you, it's just that we are stuck with worse politicians than the ones you have in your countries (trust me, it IS possible...)

  • Comment number 34.

    Just keep us out of it!
    Also get us out of the EC itself - which now means the cartel of Germany and France.

  • Comment number 35.

    We don't hate the Germans (anymore). All these stupid things (lazy Greeks vs. Nazis) mentioned in z-list publications in both countries will go away as soon as this issue is gone.

    We cannot get a state pension at 60!! This only applies to a few very specific professions and most of the time it has to do with dangerous/unhealthy occupations.

    We are not rich because we receive 14 salaries. What counts at the end of the day is your annual income, not the number of installments you receive it in.

    Not everyone is a tax evader over here. Most of us have our taxes automatically deducted from our monthly salaries, business owners represent a small part of the population.

    The number one problem with Greece is not bureaucracy, corruption, or even mismanagement. All these occur in every country. The major problem is the enormous size of the public sector which has been growing like a cancer for the last 20 years. We currently have around 700.000 public sector workers, almost as many as France!

    Last but not least, and just for the record, we a proud people and what you do not read in the papers is how awful and embarrassed we feel that our country has been reduced to the status of a beggar in the eurozone. No matter what happens, the Greek people will never forgive the politicians who got us here.

  • Comment number 36.

    Here is a thought: give us some money to go to Greece for holidays rather then just give them money directly. We spend money there, airlines and ferry operators are happy, hotel owners happy, local food producers happy, souvenir makers happy and government happy because tax and VAT flows into the treasury. And most of all we the tax payers also are happy! A simple and effective plan but I'm sure our government is not so happy about that.

  • Comment number 37.

    Proof if ever it was needed that the EU is a bad mistake, the UK needs to get out ASAP.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm sure it can be argued the European Union is one method of preventing war in Europe. With the exception of a masocist, people don't often attack themselves. On the other hand the total elimination of a societies culture and national indentity is equaly alarming. To that end a return to the Deustch mark, The French Franc etc is in order. Life isn't always fair and I don't feel it's the responsibility of the working class to rescue the non-working class. Individual cultures and groups need to grow up, stop procreating as a national sport and take some ownership in there own countries. If you follow the money. at the end you'll find some politician getting rich promoting this one world concept. There are the helpless and the hopeless on this earth. Don't be confused.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    Pouring money into Greece won't fix things on its own, governments EVERYWHERE have to learn not to spend more than they earn. This is particularly a problem in some countries where the governments have been throwing tax break after tax break at the rich, without making cuts anywhere.

    Conservative governments claiming to "cut excess" and "lower taxes" do more damage to countries and their deficits than Liberal governments who raise taxes.

    Being in a position where making cuts AND raising taxes together is the only option is a sticky one, however, as cuts on many fronts will hamper long-term growth(health care, infrastructure, education, etc.) while raising taxes will make people less willing to spend if they feel struck by it.

    Involving the IMF is also a poor idea, this thing should be resolved entirely within the EU as far as is possible. If the EU does not police and support its own members without outside support, then the whole union becomes a bit pointless. Especially the policing, countries need to actually be held to the EU's rules.

  • Comment number 41.

    We are bankrupt and yet Brown is giving away Sterling to support the Euro. Oh yes another advantage of being part of the EU federation. But the most frightening outcome of this latest lavish bash for the EU leaders is the agreement for new powers to "co-ordinate EU economies ". One more step towards total control from Brussels. And the power behind the throne Germany and its mistress France will have achieved something Hitler could not with all his might.

  • Comment number 42.

    Know this point may be marginally 'off topic', but is actually about the EU.

    Last Sunday edition of BBC Countryfile showed the devastation of Cumbrian farmers in and around Cockermouth disasters and unable to afford to clear their land from heavy stone and gravel deposited on crops land from floods?

    Apparently, the EU Commission are legally required, from authorised and specific funds for disasters on agricultural land anywhere for members of the EU, to provide funds to recompense and provide financial aid to renew agricultural land. Are the NFU failing British farmers by not lobbying and demanding rightful aid from the EU that UK has already paying in to?

    Furthermore, all businesses, local authorities, and all individual citizens are entitled to grants from the EU for natural disasters also!!

  • Comment number 43.

    I wouldn't profess to know whether it's a good plan or not.

    I'm not an economist.

    I'm amazed there are so many economists around though - look at the hundreds posting here!

    (Thats "irony" by the way....)

  • Comment number 44.

    Its all Greek to me!

  • Comment number 45.

    Frightful how many of the comments here display such a profound lack of understanding of either the present situation or basic economics. Most follow the similar pattern of attempting to make a pre-defined political statement, then massaging the facts around that. All so utterly pointless and nonconstructive.

    Then again, how exactly can the general public - with no real expertise in finance or economics (myself included) - possibly come up with a meaningful critique of actions proposed by financial experts? It's like the general public critiquing a heart surgeon during an operation.

    Quite what the point is, I'm not sure. Maybe it just makes us all feel better inside for posting, even if it is utterly pointless.

  • Comment number 46.

    22. At 12:07pm on 26 Mar 2010, Wolfgang Pauli wrote:

    Can you give examples, please? All the French Presidents I have heard admire and respect the UK, though do not always see eye to eye on many policies, which is what you would expect between most countries, allied or otherwise.

    It's nearly 50 years since the French objected to the UK joining the EEC and that was largely down to De Gaulle. Once he was out of the way the French supported UK membership once Heath negotiated entry.

    The idea often expressed here that the EU in general and France in particular is out to gain "control" of the UK, but not, apparently, of any other country, is ridiculous.

    -----------------------------

    Sorry my mistake. I was interpreting the french pressure for us to join the Euro (if we did we would have to bail out greece), the french trying to get a say in our financial sector which labour (very late) was fighting but struggled since we had nobody representing the UK in power. But as you say the french have no problems with us (somehow history has changed here) and even on a civillian level they can be derogatory to the english (my dad has enough dealings with them to prefer the US anyday).

    As for the 'its been 50 years' defense, how long ago did we save them from a lifetime of speaking german and supporting the mass murder of jews? Whens the last time they supported us in a war? They do the bare minimum in current conflicts, so much for being an ally. They cant even manage to stop immigrants coming here from france and we have to deal with it because they are too incompetent to manage.

  • Comment number 47.

    Until you can stamp out corruption in the PIGS then all you will be doing is throwing good money after bad, I don't care what France and Germany decide to do just so long as we don't have to cough up anything for it, we are broke as it is.

  • Comment number 48.

    It cannot work - more precisely, the Euro zone as currently configured cannot work. YOu cannot have a situation where monetary policy is set at one transnational level, but fiscal policy is set at the individual national level. It simply cannot work. Nations lose the ability to adjust interest rates and currency valuations to respond to their particular situation.


    And it is manifestly unfair (and crazy) to expect hard working, long working, law abiding, tax-paying Germans to subsidize the Greeks who don't work as long and who don't pay their taxes. Why should Germany do that? Germany was willing to step up in the post-war period, to show that they want to be good neighbors and part of the EU. But they shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of Greek fiscal mismanagement.

  • Comment number 49.

    It is the wrong question to ask. The eurozone has been growing too big too quickly, without initial and continued safeguards against this kind of problem. I doubt whether Greece will be the only member needing help.

  • Comment number 50.

    Fairly sure the Greek people are as disenchanted with the Euro and Euro politics - especially the unelected and highly expensive EU Commission?

    As British, we as a family love holidays in mainland Greece and all it's islands. Like Italy, Spain and Portugal - they are very hospitable, as are many North African nations.

    Sorry France, but you still openly ignore anyone who speaks English - yet you are the most FINANCIALLY enriched by the EU 'system'?

    Our family loves Germany too. Unlike the French, they don't 'pretend' not to speak English and are very welcoming to British tourists.

    As for other areas of tourism (sorry off topic) our family loves Japan. The Japanese people are SO hospitable, polite and welcoming. Japanese people always bring out the best in our children and set best standards for behaviour by example. Our whole extended family in UK all recommend Japan as a holiday destination.

    No, no shares in anything, we, as a family, say it as we find it!

  • Comment number 51.

    I have heard many people (e.g. "ian cheese") jokingly propose that Greece sells some of its islands in order to pay for its debt. Unfortunately, there is only one, big island that has been already sold to the US - and it is not located in the Mediterranean.

  • Comment number 52.

    Let's NOT kid ourselves. There is NO Eurozone and this is what this occasion has proven once more!

    Germany - the 2nd biggest world power in exports - simply does NOT want the Euro to be very strong and go very high simply because this affects their exports and money they get from them. Not to mention so much money they are getting from Greece (i.e. apart from the tax cheating people there are a LOT more who have to do 2-3 jobs daily to make ends meet) regarding Defense and Military equipment, dodgy submarines even lately etc and all these at times of ... 'Peace'!

    There is NO real friendship or even Co-operation in Europe and there will never be as long as there are still ... CLASHING INTERESTS!

  • Comment number 53.

    The balance between keeping the Euro "respectable" and not taking for granted that economic misfortunes will be rescued by other countries tax payers is critical for the EU survival. The solution for Greece seem balanced and let's hope that no other country takes it for granted.

  • Comment number 54.

    "Give them gifts? what in a wooden horse, they will never fall for that one?

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    At 12:31pm on 26 Mar 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    The Euro was, and still continues to be, a bizarre and divisive experiment enacted by an unelected EU Commission;


    Actually that isn't true. The Euro was part of the Treaty of Maastricht. The UK got an opt out. Many EU countries had referenda on Maastricht (including France). Denmark's referendum rejected Maastricht and then gained an opt out on the Euro and then voted again for Maastricht with the opt out in place.

    So, the Euro is one clear example of it not being just enacted by an "unelected commission" but where the democratic mandate of the constituent states was followed. The masses may now regret adopting the Euro in some places (especially Germany) but they can't say they weren't consulted, though may claim they were misled.

    And for your information the "unelected commission" can't enact anything by themselves. Their proposals have to be agreed by the "Council of Ministers" (Elected by their member states and accountable to their elected governments) and the EU Parliament (elected by popular vote) which can reject and revise proposals. The Treaty of Lisbon goes further and gives national parliaments a key role in scrutinising and revising proposals from the EU Commission, further increasing its democratic accountability. So it's all a bit odd that Eurosceptics claim Lisbon undermines democratic accountability, as it actually gives more.

    However, in the UK, the real problem with EU legislation is that our MPs don't actively scrutinise it and seek revisions and that, once adopted, our Civil servants go overboard in "gold plating" the directives when it comes to implementation in ways that were unintended. They remove the often deliberate ambiguity build in so different states have flexibility in implementing the directives.

    Two examples: a 32 page EU directive on abbattoirs was implemented in 7 pages inFrance, but 90_ pages in the UK. The directives on Metric measures did not require the UK to abolish imperial measures (which afterall are inexact subdivisions of metric measures and - eg - Ireland and Sweden still serve pints) so Councils taking street traders to court was their choice, not a requirement from the EU.

    So we need our MPs and Civil servants to be more active in shaping the directives and less prescriptive in how its implemented. That's something in the UK's control to solve.

  • Comment number 57.

    This crisis should have been the death of the Euro and Fourth Reich.
    Sadly these parasites will not let anything deter there dream of a EU superstate and are now using it bring about Brussels absolute control over all european economies and judging that imbacile we have for a PM it looks like we will have no say AGAIN.
    I will happily vote any party that promises full withdrawal from the EU.

  • Comment number 58.

    Greece should have gone direct to the IMF rather than be indebted to the Eurozone.

  • Comment number 59.

    At 1:32pm on 26 Mar 2010, in_the_uk wrote:

    As for the 'its been 50 years' defense, how long ago did we save them from a lifetime of speaking german and supporting the mass murder of jews? Whens the last time they supported us in a war? They do the bare minimum in current conflicts, so much for being an ally. They cant even manage to stop immigrants coming here from france and we have to deal with it because they are too incompetent to manage.


    This is waht I don't understad about the UK: it keeps going back to WW2 as if that should define our relationships with our EU partners.

    Most EU countries suffered far more in WW2 than the UK did. Poland lost a much greater proportion of its citizens than any other country; it was the third time in 70 years that France was invaded by Germany (1870, 1914 and 1940 in case you're confused); Holland, Belgium, Greece, Czech/Slovakia, Italy (after it changed sides), the Baltic states, the Balkans suffered enormously. If these countries can put the past behind them to collaborate to build a better future together with former enemies, why can't we?

  • Comment number 60.

    37. At 12:59pm on 26 Mar 2010, Toad In The Hole wrote:
    Proof if ever it was needed that the EU is a bad mistake, the UK needs to get out ASAP.

    If you think the economy is bad now, watch what would happen if the UK would try and pull this trick!

  • Comment number 61.

    "It is a shame to waste a good crisis!" With similar situations in Italy, Spain, And Portugal, it is imperative that Greece's issues are "solved" quickly and effectively. In the long run, I see a more unified process where the UCB approves member governments' budgets and gross expenditures and perhaps provides annual audits of EU members' books. Otherwise, this will become a recurring theme because everyone knows Germany and France will always bail-out the selfish or foolish members.

    One can imagine that some day the German people will revolt against the foolish members and either return to the Mark or insist that the foolish members be returned to their currency so they may devalue without affecting the Euro. This will also affect the U.K., whose finances have not been very well managed either. Fiscal discipline is difficult for everyone but the Germans, it appears!

    Best regards

  • Comment number 62.

    I thought that the EU should be similar to The Three Musketers, one for all and all for one.So yes we should help our fellow europeans.

  • Comment number 63.

    The only thing that modern-day Greece has in common with ancient Greece is the name. Ancient Greece was a great power and was the birthplace of democracy. The Greece today is nothing like its ancient namesake. The Greece today is a grasping, corrupt, pathological tax-evading basket case that thinks it can take Europe for a ride. The IMF should only give Greece money if it seriously changes its ways. Fat chance of that happening, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 64.

    59. At 2:33pm on 26 Mar 2010, Wolfgang Pauli wrote:

    At 1:32pm on 26 Mar 2010, in_the_uk wrote:

    As for the 'its been 50 years' defense, how long ago did we save them from a lifetime of speaking german and supporting the mass murder of jews? Whens the last time they supported us in a war? They do the bare minimum in current conflicts, so much for being an ally. They cant even manage to stop immigrants coming here from france and we have to deal with it because they are too incompetent to manage.

    This is waht I don't understad about the UK: it keeps going back to WW2 as if that should define our relationships with our EU partners.

    Most EU countries suffered far more in WW2 than the UK did. Poland lost a much greater proportion of its citizens than any other country; it was the third time in 70 years that France was invaded by Germany (1870, 1914 and 1940 in case you're confused); Holland, Belgium, Greece, Czech/Slovakia, Italy (after it changed sides), the Baltic states, the Balkans suffered enormously. If these countries can put the past behind them to collaborate to build a better future together with former enemies, why can't we?

    ----------------------------------

    How dont you understand if you took this conversation back 50 years. I said the french stopped us being invited in the firt place, you said 50 yrs ago. How much before that did we dig them out of the nazi's? Yet they didnt want us then when we should have been best of friends. But no.

    As for other members, how many hold such a problem with the UK (particularly england)? Why was it that Darling had to defend our financial sector when french president wanted to skick his fingers in our pies? Why are we buying expensive euro kit which isnt up to scratch when the US offers far cheaper and far better (and were available when we wanted it) equipment? To please the EU?

    maybe its the way our gov implements EU policy (the french dont seem to bother so much) or that our gov gets taken to court for not doing as the EU says and its our tax money to pay the fine, etc. But I am not impressed with the EU. I am glad I voted BNP as MEP's and I am glad UKIP is there too. If we are to be part of the EU we need such MEP's to speak for britain and the UK as labour is incapable

  • Comment number 65.

    No body likes to pay taxes. But until the Mediteranian countries get their act together I doubt it.

    Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal have always known to be great tax dodgers, unlike the Germans. Until they changes their attitudes and the EU has severe penalties for those countries nothing will change.

    And the EU has also the east block EU wannabies to worry about.

    Expand the EU? whish you luck boys. Keep a tight grip on your wallets.

  • Comment number 66.

    60. At 2:40pm on 26 Mar 2010, Dutchie76 wrote:

    37. At 12:59pm on 26 Mar 2010, Toad In The Hole wrote:
    Proof if ever it was needed that the EU is a bad mistake, the UK needs to get out ASAP.

    If you think the economy is bad now, watch what would happen if the UK would try and pull this trick!

    ------------------------------

    Give a hint. Go on. We are the 5th richest country (last I checked)hence the reason the EU want us to join the euro. We can trade with the EU the same as before without coming under their control. We can also deal with the US which is a far cheaper supplier and have similar language and methods to us.

    Because we didnt join the euro our economy is better off than greece who has a currency controlled by the EU. We own our currency and its holding out well even against the fears of a hung parliment. Joining the euro would be suicide now and too many people would be without money or homes to do it. The common currency has a big problem when 1 country does bad financial things as it drags all their countries down.

    There is a debate of what will be done in this country to fix our recession. Some of these options wouldnt exist with the euro

  • Comment number 67.

    Maby the orginal group, THE BENELUX, should pull out of this whole EU mess.

  • Comment number 68.

    At 1:32pm on 26 Mar 2010, in_the_uk wrote: 'As for the 'its been 50 years' defense, how long ago did we save them from a lifetime of speaking german and supporting the mass murder of jews? Whens the last time they supported us in a war? They do the bare minimum in current conflicts, so much for being an ally. They cant even manage to stop immigrants coming here from france and we have to deal with it because they are too incompetent to manage'

    For your information, UK border security officials work extremely close with their French colleagues and have been very succesfull in stopping many illegal immigrants from coming into the country. Sure, there are always ones who will manage to slip past the net so to speak but France is no longer the same safe heaven for illegal immigrants as it used to be.

    And as for supporting the UK in current conflicts, the war in Iraq was and is an illegal one and last time I checked there are Dutch troops in Afghanistan too. Just because the UK likes to invade countries illegally doesn't mean the rest of Europe has to follow.

  • Comment number 69.

    A major problem for Greece is the systematic evasion of tax by the middle and professional classes. There is €25 billion a year in unpaid tax in Greece. Cracking down on that would make government revenues look a lot better. Succesive Greek governments have ignored the problem and have borrowed to highly to fund spending.
    The irony is it is the PAYE tax payers who are facing job losses and cuts in services.
    Despite the doommongers wish list, I suspect the long term effect of this recession will be a tighter economic regime for the Eurozone. There is too much political capital tied up in the Euro for it to fail.

  • Comment number 70.

    This situation has been created by the European Commission in their haste to create the Euro. It was clear from the outset, particularly feared by the German population, that many countries like Greece, Portugal,Italy and Ireland were highly at risk. Eventually it was only creative accounting that permitted these countries to meet the necessary criteria for membership. This creative accounting has seriously backfired and now the Eurozone (European Commission) is asking the rest of us to bail them out. They should have the courage and do as the German government and population secretly want and that is to scrap the Euro and return to individual currencies. It may not be the best solution but it is the only one that will make weak countries to control their spending and independently take measures to resolve their own recovery.

  • Comment number 71.

    At this critical juncture for Greece, the European Union countries need to stand shoulder to shoulder with the country. Leaving it in the lurch would be unthinkable. The European President Van Rompuy has calmly stated that Greece will be helped and rightly so. Getting the country back to a healthy financial state would require tough measures, a combined prescription by the IMF and other EU members to bail out Greece. Of course Greece will have to show its willingness to abide by the stringent conditions to be imposed.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm not bothered what the eu does to help Greece, as long as they dont ask us for any money!

    We are in as much of a finacial mess asd they are. Fortunately not being in the euro disney zone allows us to react quicker and make the necessary changes to guide ourselves out of this hole.

    Greece should remove itself from the euro and sort its own problems out.

  • Comment number 73.

    No why doesnt someone admit the EURO is a dead duck dragging everyone into the cesspit !!!!! where does all this money come from can we have some please

  • Comment number 74.

    70. At 3:14pm on 26 Mar 2010, jwelshman wrote:
    This situation has been created by the European Commission in their haste to create the Euro.


    Haste? Let's discuss that shall we:

    1979: European Exchange Rate Mechanism out in place (precursor to Euro but each country keeps its currency and has to keep it within a fix range of others). UK does not join

    1991: Maastricht: agrees to Euro as the common currency and a timetable

    1999: Euro becomes official currency of Eurozone. National currencies fixed at agreed rate but still circulate

    2002: Euro notes replace national currencies in circulation

    That's quite a long journey.

  • Comment number 75.

    No. Not only I am paying for the mistakes of this government and banks, now I have to pay for the bl**dy greeks as well?

  • Comment number 76.

    The euro always was at heart a political project that is designed to force ever-greater political union - it was forseen that sooner or later the European public would find this objectionable, hence ways had to be found to coerce them. So you create an economic union because it drives political union. The euro as it stands now won't work, this was known from the start. Far from the Greek situation being an unexpected crisis, it's a planned for opportunity - it was inevitable. Already the political class are muttering about "European economic governance" which "must be done or the euro will fail and it will be a disaster". The economical and financial consequences are a side show, of little consequence so long as they ratchet political "integration". They used to scare people with "if you don't have the EU the Germans will give it another go"; that isn't really credible these days, so instead we'll hear "we must have the EU setting taxes and give it a big federal budget or our currency will fail". Monnet, one of the architects of the EU, wrote: "Via money Europe could become political in five years" and "... the current communities should be completed by a Finance Common Market which would lead us to European economic unity. Only then would ... the mutual commitments make it fairly easy to produce the political union which is the goal."

  • Comment number 77.

    "63. At 2:52pm on 26 Mar 2010, Barry wrote:
    The only thing that modern-day Greece has in common with ancient Greece is the name. Ancient Greece was a great power and was the birthplace of democracy. The Greece today is nothing like its ancient namesake. The Greece today is a grasping, corrupt, pathological tax-evading basket case that thinks it can take Europe for a ride. The IMF should only give Greece money if it seriously changes its ways. Fat chance of that happening, I'm afraid."

    Nice one, I'm sure that you'll appreciate that for most Greeks & Italians I know, Brits are drunken loudmouths in love with sickies & living on benefits. You do understand that they still speak Greek yes? 'Cause what we speak today is not German any more ;)

    I say emigrate now to any club-med country. 4 more years with Brown will do it for us. Might as well be warm.

  • Comment number 78.

    The plan must go ahead or it is the end of the Euro – too many reputations rest on that for them not to bail out this disaster.

    Tough rules, flouted in the past, will be “obeyed”, i.e. flouted but with official sanctions!

    Just goes to prove the hated Tories were right when they said that this was a accident waiting to happen, and although it is distasteful to say one decision Brown got right!

  • Comment number 79.

    68. At 3:10pm on 26 Mar 2010, Dutchie76 wrote:

    For your information, UK border security officials work extremely close with their French colleagues and have been very succesfull in stopping many illegal immigrants from coming into the country. Sure, there are always ones who will manage to slip past the net so to speak but France is no longer the same safe heaven for illegal immigrants as it used to be.

    And as for supporting the UK in current conflicts, the war in Iraq was and is an illegal one and last time I checked there are Dutch troops in Afghanistan too. Just because the UK likes to invade countries illegally doesn't mean the rest of Europe has to follow.

    -------------------------------------------

    The afghan war is illegal? The iraq war is in question and there is an argument for both sides but the afghan effort is legit. Granted there are terrorist supporters and uninformed who think its illegal but since the taliban are trying to overthrow the afghan gov (we are allies with) and the taliban waged war on the world with support from many terrorist groups perverting the minds of good kids I dont see how you got so lost.

    The EU hasnt really done too much because the french are top players who wouldnt fight for a biscuit (they surrendered to a hob-nob) and with their supporters block any real action. So as per usual it is left to the US who were attacked and the UK who were attacked. Madrid was attacked and motivated them a little but where are the french? Where is the EU? What shape is a good bannana?

  • Comment number 80.

    Well, maybe this Greek Government should stay in power longer, in order for someone to be held responsible in case of failure because i have the impression that the Government is alone in its commitment to austerity measures.The people will continue to evade taxes for as long as they feel that this is money taken away unjustly and in vain from them.

  • Comment number 81.

    The Eurozone has had to go to the IMF for assistance over Greece and will have to do so over other members. So much for their economic model.

    Common sense would indicate that they should review their model as it is unworkable.

  • Comment number 82.

    If the EU is to be recognized as a union than the EU has to act accordingly. From what I have read and listened to Greece needs to be bailed out, and the European Union has an obligation to do so. This sets a unified precident, and a good one at that.

  • Comment number 83.

    At 1:32pm on 26 Mar 2010, in_the_uk wrote: 'As for the 'its been 50 years' defense, how long ago did we save them from a lifetime of speaking german and supporting the mass murder of jews? Whens the last time they supported us in a war? They do the bare minimum in current conflicts, so much for being an ally. They cant even manage to stop immigrants coming here from france and we have to deal with it because they are too incompetent to manage'

    In WW" we had a bit of assistance from the USA, Canada, Free French, Polish, Czech forces and the Empire to liberate France. The USSR was also occuppying German forces on the Eastern Front. The French might claim, and this is clearly a complex issue, that we left them on their own in 1940. Destroying the Vichy Navy in 1940 (whilst entirely necessary) probably didn't help either.

    However, in 1914-18 Britain and France fought side by side to defeat a common enemy.

    In 1854-6 Britain and France fought side by side in Crimea against Russia.

    However, in 1870 they faced Germany alone and were humiliated. That humiliation had a major influence on French policy until at least 1945.

  • Comment number 84.

    BBC's idebtness chart includes Spain and UK, but does not include Portugal and Ireland (both basket cases).

    How come?

  • Comment number 85.

    To 83. Wolfgang Pauli

    So what you say is that the french friendlied up with Germany (which kicked them on 3 occasions, 2 of which we saved their country). So why 50 years ago did they not want their allies (us) who backed them twice in a century (both times would have lost france without us and our allies) to join the EU? The official reason is they feared we would take over. Great friends. I wouldnt want them bothering our economy or country. The US are far better friends to us than the french.

    As the american comment goes- 'the french have the only army in the world with sunburned armpits'. And since they wouldnt back us over anyone in the EU we may as well accept that we have better friends. We can still deal with them as before but no need for a superstate. Shows how good they are when they have to debate wether to help greece or not

  • Comment number 86.

    What a farce!!!!! This just proves the obvious fact that the system
    called "the eurozone" is abjectly useless at working as it should.
    Why bale out a country that cannot {will not} bring it's own house to
    order?
    I thought such an act as this was forbidden.
    Thank God-not teflon tony-that we are not in this stupid system.
    Oh --a world without politicians--what a beautiful place it would be!


  • Comment number 87.

    I like any deal that, so we are told, involves only the Eurozone and not my hard-earned savings but what happens if Portugal, Ireland and Spain are encouraged by this new example to also demand bail-outs? This could mean a possible two-tiered EU and even larger burdens on France, Germany and the UK. The only bright side is that the Turkey's admission may be shelved for lack of money to provide them with handouts.
    At least the PM of Greece still remains aloof to his national contretemps, knowing full well that owing colossal amounts with no intent to repay is the best guarantee of indefinite economic support.

    It's inspiring to see beggars with dignity.

  • Comment number 88.

    The people of Gt Britain are among the most generous in the world,they are the first to put their hands in their pockets to help with disasters,our money is being doled out left right and centre,time to close the purse,we have enough scroungers of our own,we are struggling with debts of our own,lets get them sorted first,Mr Brown is to handy at throwing pur money around.For goodness sake,its called Good Housekeeping

  • Comment number 89.

    It is time Britan stoped giving Europe money.We need it here,& i dont think any one in the British goverment is capable of advising another country. Just look at the mess thay have put us in.

  • Comment number 90.

    Generally many of the Latin countries are in trouble financially. There is systemic corruption in their society. Since joining the EU they have considered Germany as a money bag. If they can’t change their ways, let them drink Olive Oil.

  • Comment number 91.

    Greece needs capital funds for business development. The money could start a tech industry there. Revenue will improve relations with Turkey and Lebanon.

  • Comment number 92.

    84. At 4:46pm on 26 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:
    BBC's idebtness chart includes Spain and UK, but does not include Portugal and Ireland (both basket cases).

    How come?

    Actually it does include Ireland and it shows both debt and budget deficit as percentages of GDP lower than in the UK

  • Comment number 93.

    70. At 3:14pm on 26 Mar 2010, jwelshman wrote
    It was clear from the outset, particularly feared by the German population, that many countries like Greece, Portugal,Italy and Ireland were highly at risk. Eventually it was only creative accounting that permitted these countries to meet the necessary criteria for membership.

    It wasn't clear to any of the ratings agencies, accountants, bankers or ministers for finance in the world, Ireland was in the top 5 richest countries in the world according to most stats around the time the euro was introduced into circulation and nobody spotted the bubble, you were blessed with this foresight apparently.

  • Comment number 94.

    Either way, the domino effect has already been triggered. Here in the U.S. we are trembling in our pants about the same thing that has happened to Greece. If the U.S. fails, who will save us? no one thats who.

  • Comment number 95.

    The United Kingdom seriously needs to sort out it`s own financial mess before throwing money at the EU to help Greece who have no-one but themselves to blame.

  • Comment number 96.

    I live in Spain and all I can see is an attitude of ' we have a crisis so if sale are down we will put prices up to compansate' The only things 'on sale' are things you do not need. Fuel, food - they go up. designer clothes may be a bit cheeper, but do we need them. No. If Greece if given money to stay inthe Euro so Spain Ireland, etc. will have to be given money as well. Only Germanay can pay and tehy do not want to. Who can blame them.

  • Comment number 97.

    Well, at last there was a twist in the agreement - as should be expected (the IMF having a backstage role). It is positive for the EU to finally meet the question of solidarity up front since there are many nations waiting in the line (Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Ireland). As a businessman in Greece the result of the austerity measures have been tough on us since we have up to 40% reduction in sales volume. Soon the consumers will feel the measures with reduced salaries, higher taxes and unemployment. I just hope we will manage to cope with it without too much unrest. The main problem is that all this time the greek banks has been buying government bonds with 6% interest and depositing them with the Central European Bank as collateral which has been lending to the banks the same amount with no interest up to now and only 1.5% from now on. Why should then bank lend out to businesses in this dangerous environment when they can pocket the money without doing anything. The extension from the Central European Bank by taking low level bonds until 2011 is the major news here and I am afraid that the banks will continue their policies, and a lot of small and medium firms will go bust since they will not have access to funds.

  • Comment number 98.

    Euro was not legitimate invention based on solid and stable markets supported by prosper compatible economies. It was political banknotes, candy wrappings if you will and based on the idea of suppressing dollar. There for wealthy European economies will be always bailing out those who falling behind. It’s the same as invite your all neighborhood for drink and discover nobody has money to pay when time to live the pub.

  • Comment number 99.

    Whether it works or not is debatable. What really isn't debatable is whether it is necessary. The Eurozone folks cannot let Greece default on it's sovereign debt or the Euro is doomed. Not being able to devalue the currency is going to extend the pain for Greece to 'normalize' it's economic house for at least an additional 5 - 10 years longer than it would have in the past. Painful lesson...

  • Comment number 100.

    whether it works or not, it is up to greece. greece gets aid, but if it won't use it well ... then god help us all.

 

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