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Daily View: Reaction to EU promise to help Greece

Clare Spencer | 09:50 UK time, Friday, 12 February 2010

Greek PM George Papandreou (centre) with leaders of France, Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany, Angela MerkelCommentators react to EU leaders' announcement that they will help Greece tackle its debt crisis.

Larry Elliot in the Guardian says Germany's reluctance to help highlights the difference between the United States who share out the wealth to poorer states and the EU in terms of their attitudes to poorer states:

"We feel your pain. But not enough to put our hands in our pockets to help you. Behind the sham show of solidarity, the simple message for the troubled government of George Papandreou was that Greece is not Alabama and Brussels is not Washington."

Also comparing the US with Europe, Janet Daley in the Telegraph thinks the incident will help American understand the differenc. She recalls a difficult interview with a US news channel:

"What I should have asked the man from MSNBC, of course, was how he would feel if the US was proposing to abandon the dollar and embrace a new common currency (the Americano?) which would be shared with all the countries of Latin and Central America - including those with outrageously high debts (as Brazil had at the time)."

Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard describes as "absurd" the notion that the euro is under threat from Greece's domestic strife:

"After all, in the United States individual cities and states go bankrupt and default on their debts on a fairly regular basis - California doing so quite recently - but no one says it will destroy the dollar. And California is a bigger economy than Greece."

Tony Barber in the Financial Times' Brussels blog considers whether strict conditions on help to Greece will work:

"On the one hand, there is a strong strain of puerile anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist feeling in Greek society. On the other, anti-German sentiments linger from Greece's horrific experiences under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1944. It would not be difficult for populist forces to draw on these prejudices and link them to the austerity plan that the EU is about to force on the Greek government."

The Economist calls the agreement vague and a "half-hearted effort" which will not be enough. The newspaper puts this down to German disinclination to bail out Greece:

"There was a strong whiff of politics in the air. German voters have been paying more than their fair share for European construction for years. Germany's big fear when it abandoned the deutschmark, just over a decade ago, was that it would end up rescuing more profligate countries in the euro zone. Now those fears are coming true."

Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail says the deal is not final and the UK could still end up indirectly bailing out Greece:

"As one of the leading members of the IMF, our shareholding at the Washington-based institution could be used as part of a broader crisis package for Southern Europe should the euroland countries refuse to come up with the bail-out support themselves."

Links in full

GuardianGuardian | The Euro: Promissory notes
GuardianLarry Elliot | Guardian | Next stop the IMF
GuardianDavid Gow | Guardian | Not quite a bailout
MailAlex Brummer | Daily Mail | Why should Britain bail Greece out?
TelegraphJanet Daley | Telegraph | America will now understand why we stayed out of the euro
TelegraphTelegraph | Germany gets to call the shots in Greece
IndependentIndependent | Europe needs to resolve its internal contradictions
see alsoAnthony Hilton | Evening Standard | To say euro's threatened is absurd
EconomistEconomist | A half-hearted effort
Financial TimesTony Barber | Financial Times | Germany Demands its Pound of Flesh

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