Greece: No room for error
21 February 2012
In a meeting that lasted into the small hours of Tuesday, February 21, the Eurogroup finally adopted a second bailout plan for Greece of €130 billion with an additional €107 billion in cancelled debt. But failing a genuine economic development plan, this sum will not be sufficient to put the country back on its feet, warns Greek daily To Ethnos.
The negotiation to finalise the agreement was neither a foregone conclusion nor one easily arrived at and Finance ministers of the Eurogroup kept at it until late into the night. The obstacles to be overcome were many and difficult. Of course the price to pay for this second chance, accorded yesterday, will be high. In a sense, the ball is now in our camp.
The unattained goals of the past two years and the tasks left in order to clear the backlog are so significant that, in the end, the weight which we have been asked to lift is even greater than what we had accepted when parliament adopted last Sunday's austerity plan. [The plan cuts €3.3 billion from the state budget including a reduction to the minimum wage and a cap on old-age pensions.]
It is not enough to stop the haemorrhage
This time we have no room for manoeuvre, nor error. This is the main concern of our partners and creditors, who have imposed on us a stricter control of the reforms that we are obliged to implement. The way in which these negotiations were undertaken is a sign that they will be more severe in case of default on our part.
Nonetheless, our partners should realise that if they want to help us, it is not enough to stop the haemorrhage caused by the debt and the deficit, but it is also necessary to rein in the recession. It is obvious that cuts in revenues are hardly the only solution for getting out of the crisis.
This time around, we have in fact been asked to behave with greater seriousness and responsibility than in these past two years. We must emphasise the need for development. If we do not do so, we will soon be asked to make more efforts at austerity.