Thursday

29th Jun 2017

Greece, Spain up for more austerity despite violence

  • Thousands gathered Wednesday in front of the Parliament building in Athens (Photo: mkhalili)

Outbursts of violence in both Greece and Spain are not preventing the respective governments from pushing ahead with the further austerity measures asked for by international lenders.

After weeks of haggling, the three-party coalition in Greece on Thursday (27 September) announced a "basic agreement" on €11.5 billion worth of spending cuts needed for the next tranche of bailout money to be disbursed.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But one of the three leaders, Fotis Kouvelis, said there were still some "outstanding issues", without giving any details. Centre-right Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has struggled to convince his two junior coalition partners from the left to agree to more wage and pension cuts.

Popular anger against the cuts turned violent on Wednesday as over 50,000 gathered in Syntagma square with riot police firing tear gas on protesters. A general strike also paralysed transportation into and throughout the country, as well as hospitals and schools.

Similar violence erupted in Spain ahead of a fresh set of spending cuts the government was set to approve later on Thursday.

Spain is under a 'light' bailout of €100bn for its banking sector but is expected to ask for more financial assistance soon, as the recession is worsening and unemployment has hit 25 percent, the highest in Europe.

"The violent images from Spain and Greece prove that this violent austerity inevitably leads to social tension," Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras said Thursday during a press conference in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Greece will inevitably need to have a second and possibly even a third debt restructuring, according to Tsipras, unless EU leaders agree to slash all its debt and give some "breathing space" to the economy.

Tsipras said this could be done with a "debt conference" as happened for Germany after the second World War, when 60 percent of the country's debt was pardoned and the rest had to be repaid once the economy the started growing.

He criticised the current Greek government for having promised to re-negotiate the terms of the bailout only to agree to all prescribed austerity measures a few months later.

"It is a dead end, a vicious circle of austerity, recession, deficit and debt. Greece's gross domestic product has shrunk by 20 percent from the beginning of the crisis. This is unprecedented in a country where there is no war."

Greece should get more time, France says

France is in favour of giving Greece more time to meet its bailout conditions. Meanwhile, German media says there are plans to increase the EU bailout fund to €2 trillion.

Greek plea for 'breathing space' falls on deaf ears for now

Greece's request for 'breathing space' will go unanswered for at least another month as international creditors say they are determined to wait for an assessment of its reform progress before granting Athens any leeway.

Spanish regions agree to deficit plan

Spain's regions have agreed to spending cuts designed to meet EU targets, with Prime Minister Rajoy ruling out reports that he will ask for a bailout this weekend.

Eurozone gives Greece 10-day ultimatum

Eurozone ministers have given Greece 10 days to implement budget cuts in return for a bailout cash, as Germany Merkel braves protesters on a visit to Athens.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  2. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  3. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  5. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  6. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  8. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  9. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  10. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  11. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  12. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances