Eurozone crisis: European voices

In a crucial week for the EU, we hear from readers inside and outside the eurozone on what they hope to see emerge from crunch talks on the future of the single currency.

Eurozone members:

Adriano Barcuti, 30, programmer, Romano di Lombardia, Italy

I think the euro will survive but it's in the hands of Germany, not France.

Germany needs to put the money in to guarantee it survives, but it will also then need to impose strict measures on other eurozone countries.

We know that we have to make sacrifices, but we need to know that it's worth making those sacrifices.

I would also like to see more involvement from Italy in the talks. Two weeks ago, it was a case of a problem with our credibility under Berlusconi, but we've moved on.

[New Prime Minister Mario] Monti has come in and he's a great economist and should be more involved in the talks.

He has brought in the austerity measures, which, with the rise in VAT, will see the price of consumer goods rise, but the capping of taxes on companies will help business.

The euro is the only currency without a strong bank behind it. That needs to change. To do that there will need to be a change in the ideology of European banks.

Germany needs to make sure that happens and that the euro is guaranteed by the banks.

There also needs to be more understanding between eurozone countries to make sure the euro goes forward.

I am worried, but I do think the euro will be saved.

It would be a great loss if the euro falls, but I don't think even Germany can afford to see that happen.

Gregorio Altamirano, 57, Jeweller, Brussels, Belgium

What I would like to see happen by the end of this week is the break-up of the big banks. This is the only way that the euro can survive.

These "too big to fail" banks have had too much power for too long.

Belgium has managed to stay out of it until now. But maybe Belgium could be next to see a loss of its sovereignty, as has happened to other countries such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

There are a lot of austerity measures that have yet to be implemented here.

I think Greece will default and should withdraw from the eurozone. I see no other solution for Greece.

This is not a union now, this is a dictatorship.

Hopefully other countries will not agree to a new treaty, as it would mean a [European] hegemony, headed up by Germany.

Germany now has virtual economic control of Europe, and you can't blame them for it - this is what powers do. Germany is just doing it through economic means.

I think the euro will stay after a compromise has been reached, but the ball will be in Germany's court.

Unless the system changes and more control is taken over large banks, I see the euro not lasting for more than another year.

There are alarms going all over the place now. People are only now waking up to this grim reality.

Sylvain Telliez-Puswella, 20, student, Paris, France

This crisis is an exact image of the domino effect.

First Ireland, then Greece, now Italy. The only way forward is for European leaders to work together, and that is being led by France and Germany.

Currently, people only see these two countries working together.

Italy for one is complaining that it is not being more involved, but it's tough for both France and Germany to make the right decisions for the good of all.

They are not waiting on other leaders to take the decisions, they are doing it themselves.

The more people involved, the more ideas go around, and the more time it takes for everyone to come to a conclusion.

Everyone is scared right now about what will happen. Students like myself in France are worried about our future. We don't know what lies ahead for us.

So [President Nicolas] Sarkozy has to get the best deal for us, the French.

He also knows that whatever decisions he makes this week will have a direct impact on how he does in the upcoming presidential elections.

People are not happy with this situation, but we know that the best place to be is still inside the eurozone.

Adam Lonergan, 29, unemployed, Tipperary, Ireland

The euro just hasn't worked out for Ireland.

I really wish they would just end the whole common currency this week.

It now seems to just be all about France and Germany, and we've just got a raw deal.

I know it's probably our own fault to a certain extent, but the sooner they just end this nonsense the sooner little countries like Ireland can get on with getting back to being themselves.

I understand that will mean sending a lot of countries into more trouble, but the whole idea of the EU just feels alien to me now.

I know that many of my friends here feel the same. We just want to go back to what we know.

This whole thing has been going on for so long and it just seems to get worse and worse.

But I don't hold out any hope for the talks this week. They are unbalanced, unfair and will not fix anything.

I just want to see us out of it, and then we will just have to really come together as a country to get through it.

The same goes for other European countries that have failed financially.

They should just get out of the eurozone and let the countries that have succeeded stay together, creating a two-tier Europe.

Of course, financially it would be bad at the start, but we are used to being poor in Ireland. We only had a boom for 10 years.

It can't stay bad forever and we would come out of it a better people.

Werner Brach, 72, pensioner, northern Germany

I think it was right for Angela Merkel to put her foot down and want tougher spending laws for members of the eurozone.

Without these new laws there would have been no change in the spending behaviour of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

There is no law within the EU framework that the European Central Bank (ECB) has to jump in and bail out these countries. In fact the opposite is true.

Angela Merkel has no choice in this matter.

Agreeing to eurobonds goes against the wishes of our central bankers and in that respect would go against the whole business community of Germany.

The general German public is now fed up with having to pick up the tab for other countries.

But I'm all for helping Greece to find a solid footing - by introducing taxes that everybody pays.

I would like to see an agreement from all EU countries on the same tax structures, including income, business and profit taxes, including VAT.

I believe that the euro will survive because Germany, France, and other countries such as the Netherlands, Finland and Austria will support it.

Germany has basically no interest in leading Europe. You can see this by the absence of first rate German politicians in the European structure.

Germany's wish is to have a united Europe without borders with capitalist politics, but with a strong social responsibility - which would reduce the gap between poor and rich.

Non-eurozone members:

Lauren Wilcox, 25, commercial manager, Brighton, UK

I've found these talks this week pretty annoying. There has not been a proper plan all along and now there's this "five days to save the euro" scenario.

I didn't think the euro was a good idea from the beginning.

There's a lot of animosity toward the UK for our non-involvement in the euro, but it could be worse for us - we could be in the euro.

Easier trade and travel are advantages of being in the EU, but we don't benefit from it like France and Germany.

I would like David Cameron to say at these talks that we don't want anything to do with a new treaty, without a referendum.

Mr Cameron should have agreed to a referendum a few months ago anyway.

As for the eurozone, I think it would be a lot better for the likes of Greece to pull out of it.

They should never have been allowed in in the first place. When you put them in the same currency as the Germans, and you see that it's not at all the same amounts of money going in and out, it was never going to work.

And now it [the EU] cannot carry this amount of debt.

I don't think the euro will survive. What's the point in trying to save it when it's just prolonging the pain?

Yes, it will be a nightmare for the banks and will mean another recession, but we will bounce back.

The only difference is whether it is done now or in a year's time.

Mike Mazowiecki, 63, works in metals exchange, Warsaw, Poland

The Polish view is that we want to see the EU and the euro survive as it brings long-term economic stability.

Without economic stability, you can't have political stability.

The Polish government is all for the German approach - you spend what you have and you look after your housekeeping along the way.

The Poles aren't big savers because they don't have enough money but they do live within their means.

The euro has got to be stabilised, because we're not going back to the old days. The Poles remember hyper inflation and are terrified of anything similar happening again.

The German approach to financial management is the right one and I'm expecting Germany to wield the big stick.

Poland missed its opportunity to join the eurozone between 2005 and 2007 and there are mixed feelings here now, when we look at what's going on in the eurozone.

Yes, we don't have to bail out the Greeks and the Irish and so on, but there is also a frustration at being on the sidelines, and not part of the decision-making process, knowing that the decisions being taken will have a big impact.

There is a hell of a lot of uncertainty, but previous EU crises have forced through reform, and it will be the same this time.

Interviews by Stephen Fottrell.

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