How do mothers cope with the euro crisis?
- 12 June 2012
- From the section Business
Politicians have been struggling to find a permanent solution to the financial crisis afflicting the eurozone, and have yet to come up with one that all the member states can agree upon.
Business Daily spoke to women from across Europe and asked how the crisis had affected them and the lives of their families.
Marina Pashalaki: Athens, Greece
Greece was living beyond its means even before it joined the euro.
After it adopted the single currency, public spending soared and, while the government spent, its income was hit by widespread tax evasion.
After years of overspending, its budget deficit has spiralled out of control.
Greece's voters have rejected austerity measures insisted upon by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and Germany has said the loan terms, to ease its financial woes, are not negotiable.
Marina Pashalaki explains how she was an architect and should now be getting a pension.
"I have not received anything for six months. We think about everything - the bills, the debts, which should we pay first and which second," she says.
"It has been a year since I bought myself any clothes or shoes.
"We have cut back on everything, we do not eat as much meat as we did and generally we are very careful about the quantities of food we eat. Psychologically it affects us a lot," she says.
"I do not disagree about paying taxes but I also want my country to develop and supply jobs. The problem is much more complicated than the Germans giving us money.
"It is not a simple as that - give us money, but to take what, take our islands and build a big hotel. How does that help the development of our country?" she asks.
Emilia Angelillo: Naples, Italy
Like other southern European economies, Italian wage levels rose too quickly during the good years, and left Italy uncompetitive against Germany and other northern economies within the eurozone.
The country is plagued by poor regulation, vested business interests, an ageing population and weak investment, all of which have conspired to limit the country's ability to increase production - problems that Italy's new government of unelected technocrats says it is trying to address.
"The challenges facing Marina in Greece sound familiar - the situation in Italy is a bit better, but just a bit," says Emilia Angelillo.
"Since the euro was adopted in our economy things have been bad for us and life is now very expensive.
"We are feeling all the mistakes that our government has made and unemployment is very high. Although I am a trained micro-biologist I cannot find a job. This is not just a problem in the south, it is the same across the entire country," she notes.
She maintains that in Italy, one thing which should be solved is the avoidance of paying taxes by a lot of people.
"If you look at the taxes that I pay, it is ridiculous when people richer than me do not pay as much. People like us shouldn't be accountable for the mess banks and politicians have made.
"At the same time, when we have been struggling because of the financial crisis, a lot of people and businesses have created fortunes from this situation - for example bankers, corrupt politicians, tax-avoiding business owners," she says.
"Now these guys are trying to invest their money abroad, by buying houses in London for example. Instead, they should now pay to fix this financial mess.
"Even if they claim that they have paid taxes already, which in most cases is not true, they have made money thanks to a situation where others have lost everything, so it's time now for them to pay up," she adds.
Daniela Moroz: Frankfurt, Germany
Germany became an export powerhouse after the eurozone was set up in 1999, selling far more to the rest of the world than it was buying as imports.
That meant Germany was earning a lot of surplus cash on its exports, and most of that cash ended up being lent to southern Europe.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said Europe needs political union to make monetary union work.
Daniela Moroz is a teacher with a one-year-old son, so part-time work is possible.
"I only work up to four hours a weeks as I prefer to stay at home. I do it less for money, but more to keep myself busy work-wise. It is not a necessity for me to work," she says.
"The crisis has not affected me personally but I can understand how Marina feels because when my husband was unemployed last year, we had the same sort of psychological problems with money.
"We did get help from the state though, although we had to economise and to think where to save and what to save the money on," she says.
"In Germany, those who have work are fine and those who do not have work struggle. Of course, people who are highly qualified should find a job easily. If Marina was in Germany she would not have to look for a job."
She says she has empathy for everyone in difficult situations and that people in Germany have that too.
"Our leader Angela Merkel has tried to tell Europe that Germany will give you money and try to help you out of your situation but in return, there are some conditions that you have to adhere to and if you do not, we cannot help you because we cannot endlessly feed you money which does not go into the right places. In that respect I think she is doing well."