Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Greek debt: European readers' views

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (L) and EU President Herman Van Rompuy
EU leaders said they would 'fully support' debt-laden Greece

EU leaders pledged on Thursday to help Greece tackle its huge debts and ensure stability in the eurozone.

No specific promise of aid were made at the Brussels summit of European leaders, but they did say that Greece must take further measures to tackle its severe debts and cut its budget deficit by 4% this year.

Here, readers from across Europe debate what measures they think the EU should take on Greece's massive financial difficulties.


George Tsampas

As a Greek, I think the EU should not bail us out.

Our problems have been caused by the lack of investment and government bureaucracy, along with our non-flexible laws and lack of competitiveness.

It is also due to the laid-back Greek mentality, where we try to avoid working for ourselves.

Throughout this crisis, the Greeks keep saying that the government and the banks are to blame and they should be the ones to fix the problem.

But we need to learn to tighten our own belts. If we don't do something to help ourselves now, it will be worse later.

The best approach for the EU would be to form a committee made up mainly of the bigger European economies such as Germany, France and Britain, to advise and put pressure on the Greek government to manage the economic situation effectively.

But it is important that we do not receive any financial help, as we must learn to help ourselves.

This crisis came late to Greece and we have to get used to the fact that it will take longer for us to recover.

We must learn our lesson by using our money more effectively and changing our laid back habits on work and taxation.


I am a great supporter of the euro, but wish the politics behind it were more uniform.

Greece should never have been allowed to force the euro into this position in the first place, and measures should have been taken to prevent it earlier.

The strong EU countries cannot be held over a barrel by the small, fragile economies of the eurozone.

Now that it has been allowed to get this bad, the other EU nations must step up and support these economies, as if they had done so earlier the crisis may not have arisen in the first place.

However, any aid, or bail-out, should be subject to EU parliament and commission scrutiny as to how it should be used, and also an agreement on the recovery plans should be reached as a consensus at EU level.

Greece has lost the right to financial independence if it wants to play alongside the strong currencies.

They cannot expect to take all the benefits of the single currency without imposing controls to keep within the stringent rules.


Michele Mancini

The EU should bail out Greece as much as we can. It is our duty and we must support our economic community members for the sake of the future of Europe itself.

We are united economically, but not politically, but we started this economic community so we must continue and help each other through the bad times.

However, if this happened in such a large manufacturing nation such as Italy or in Spain, then I think Europe would just collapse. I can't even imagine what it would be like.

I can see similarities between southern European nations, like Italy, Spain and Greece, where business owners and traders often do not pay their taxes, or declare very little, thus leaving the burden on the rest of the country's employees.

I blame these kinds of people for the fiscal deficit now affecting Greece and I urge all nations to take action against them.

Any EU help, therefore, must come with an appeal to Greece to implement structural changes in the way the country and its economy operates.

At the same time, you can't tell them directly how to run their country, so there is a fine balance there, a bit of a catch-22.


I say don't give Greece any money until they not only reduce the debts they build up each year but until they effectively reduce the total of their state's debts.

I don't even care how they do it, but I don't see why other Europeans should work so that the Greeks can live above their means.

EU leaders do not know what they are getting themselves into
Jorge Antonio Martins, Lisbon , Portugal

And now I hear that they plan to change their retirement age to 63, when we work until 67 at least before retiring.

So even in these hard times, which have affected all of our living standards, Greeks still seem to be far better off than other Europeans.

If we start giving money to people who fail to use it correctly we only open a Pandora's box.

Next we will see other countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal, who also don't see any need to not spend money they don't have, also requiring our help.


Antonio Jorge Martins

I think this is a very sad situation.

The black hole that the PIGS [Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain] countries opened is now spreading to other European countries.

This is because the EU will continue to pump money into this black hole and it will start to affect other European countries eventually.

As a Portuguese, I can say that our government will use all the money that the EU will lend, not to make reforms but to continue spending, which got us into this trouble in the first place. And it is the same with Greece.

EU leaders do not know what they are getting themselves into.

If you save these countries, they will never be forced to reform. It is a short-term solution that will not help these countries.

If our government, for example, sees that they have no more money to spend then they will be forced reform now. Yes we will suffer in the short-term, but in the long-term we will come out better for it and more competitive.

As it is, the EU is postponing the inevitable, risking increasing the debt in the PIGS countries and making them more dependent on further hand-outs.

The other European countries don't deserve to see their money being wasted like this.

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