Greece’s Odd EU Presidency 2014

Antonis Samaras’ government wants to present Greece as a country able to carry out its agenda with a very tight budget which will not exceed €50 million, the lowest of last twelve presidencies. For instance, Ireland spent €60 million, the same as Lithuania. In times not so longer ago, just in 2009, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s spending reached to €151 million.

Contrary to past presidencies, foreign delegations will not receive any present nor subsistence allowances for European comissioners and their assistants will not be paid either… Greek will have presumably enjoyed such a circumstance so much considering it means that instigators of money-saving and privatisation policies in the bailout will have its own medicine.

Forced to make use of ancient times to project optimism, Greece’s leaders like to say “it will be a spartan Presidency but with Athenian values”.

Troika Blues

EU’ s Troika is landing in the Greek capital with new requirements for the country’s economy on January 13th. The new financial help tranche, the umpteenth since first Greece’s rescue in 2010 which currently amounts total  loans of €240,000 million, will be only released once the government accept it. In this context, the Presidency will probably find undermined its power to drive agreements.

Ireland already took the European presidency as a rescued country in the first semester of 2013, but Dublin has been a good pupil while Athens is seen as a bad student by most of country members. European Commission, ECB and IMF’s officials are not convinced at all about the applied reforms. Three years and a half after the bailout, Greece has lost a fourth of its national wealth, unemployment affects more than 27% of its population and its sovereign debt continues to be unsustainable. Furthermore, the government bipartisan coalition is very weak, damaged by constant dropouts and threatened by the leftist powerful opposition of Syriza and the thriving extreme right of banned Golden Down.

The day in which Syriza party (literally, radical left coalition) wins the elections- it would ignore the Troika in a given moment- could be near than expected since some surveys rank it first in voting intention.

Samaras uses this internal weakness to pressure his European partners: without him, he warns, far-left and right forces could reach government. Therefore, Samaras has started to openly demand for a new Greek public debt’s restructuring or haircut by next spring. This time banks should not assume losses but Greece’s creditors (euro zone countries), which explains the cold welcome to this demand. In turn, Greek government assured that the fact of being under surveillance is not an obstacle to progress in matters such as growth, employment, banking union or inmigration.

Besides internal affairs, Greece will also must finalise the mechanism to reorganise and liquidate banks, for which it only has four effective months. They will also try to implement some of the approved measures for promoting growth by SME’s financing as well as youth unemployment. Other priorities will include a real European inmigration policy with better frontier’s control, and a commom asylum system, or a new and comprehensive maritime policy.

If Greece improved its external image, the crisis would reach its final stage hand in hand with the same country that caused the most terrible nightmare of the EU’s history.


About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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