While the EU and other major Western powers shift their attention from the financial crises that has been dominating countries such as Greece, to the more urgent situation that the institution is facing, which includes, the ongoing migrant crisis stemming from Syria, citizens of Greece are continuing to struggle as their economic crisis appears to have no end in sight.
“Just when a lot of people thought it couldn’t get worse, it seems it can,” Toula Thanopoulou said, regarding the Greek debt crisis which has been affecting the country since 2009.
“We are seeing people in really bad shape psychologically. They are incredibly scared that the next step will be banks taking away their homes. The government says all will be well, but the problems are no one believes it.” Ms. Thanopoulou is the director of the Union of Borrowers and Consumers.
Greece has been struggling financially, since it was hit particularly hard by the global economic crisis which began in 2008 but did not reach Greece until 2009. The country has been hit with an unusually high unemployment rate, which stood at 24.6%, according to latest poll available, which was taken in October 2015.
The Greek debt has also ballooned during the crisis to an almost unsustainable $354,761,406 Euros. Or when translated to percentage to GDP ratio, it is 210.56% of the GDP.
Debt to GDP ratio is an important factor in a nation’s economy because it shows the ability of the country to pay back its debt owed to foreign investors or institutions.
In an attempt to help start cutting back on debt that it owes, the Greek Parliament recently passed an austerity budget for 2016 despite the protest of many of its citizens and politicians.
“This budget is a difficult task for a government that wants to leave its mark with social justice” Greek P.M Alex Tsipras said in remarks to the Parliament in December after the vote passed. The vote was 153 to 145. The budget was seen as divisive by many Greek left wing politicians because of the cuts to services that the government provides to its poorer citizens.
Along with the numerous austerity attempts the government has attempted, the EU has agreed to 3 bailouts for the country, all of which have not seemed to have helped the country.
Greece has not been the only country to have been affected significantly by what is known as the sovereign debt crisis as, Spain, Ireland and Portugal have also gone above budgetary limits established by the EU, threatening the stability and viability of the organization.
As the EU debt crisis continues, and specifically the Greek debt crisis, it should be an issue that should be taken seriously and not forgotten in the midst of all the issues that have arisen over the past year and a half and the Greek government and the EU should adopt a policy where the country and its citizens are lead out of their current situation.
Links to sources:
- The Guardian Link: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/04/greeces-economic-crisis-goes-on-odyssey-without-end
- The BBC Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35018854
- Investopedia Link: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/european-sovereign-debt-crisis.asp
- Greek Real Time Debt Clock: http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/greece