More Carrot, Less Stick

 

I’m not entirely comfortable with the big beasts’ handling of the Eurozone crisis

Coat of arms of Greece since 7 June 1975.

in Athens.

According to Greek Prime Minister (at the time of writing, at least!), Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy joined forces to tell Papandreou that if Greece fail to accept the bailout, then they’ll be out of the EU for the next 10 years.

Now, I’m not sure whether Germany and France are even capable of making that happen. This point that there’s no provision for withdrawing from the Eurozone without leaving the European Union may be true in theory, but in practise there are plenty of countries in the European Union who aren’t part of the Eurozone, including this green and pleasant land in which I write.

The other problem I have isn’t just to do with the facts of how the mechanics of the Eurozone work, but also with the politics of the handling of Greece and the Greek people.

One of the few comparable situations where a European country was forced into an austerity programme was Germany in 1919.

In the aftermath of the Great War, the German government was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles which meant making reparation to the other European nations to the value of £325billion at today’s value.

The cover of a publication of the Treaty of Ve...

The German people were hugely against the austerity measures being forced on them by the rest of Europe and, consequently, hugely against their government for agreeing to it in the first place. Sounds reasonably familiar doesn’t it?

The Weimar republic began a slow and very messy collapse over the next few years with the economic situation in the country giving an opening to a right-wing Chancellor in January 1933. I don’t think I need to write about what happened next. If you don’t know, you probably should be reading something other than my little blog. Seriously, go buy some history books.

It’s very dangerous to push a nation and its populace beyond their limits. The stick is fine to a point, but there needs to be a lot more carrot offered to Athens. Papandreou will probably go and Greece will have to make some hard choices. And, like 1919, they’ll be choices that will affect the continent for many years to come.

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