The ‘Eurogroup’ – no doubt yet another layer of EU bureaucrats – has issued a statement detailing the measures demanded by the EU Commission and the Troika before the next instalment of the bail-out can be made available to the Greek government.
It’s worth noting that these demands – in disguised but lurking terms – apply almost as much to the other EU countries as they do to Greece, and warrant thorough examination.
The Greeks are being told their government must impose, on top of everything that’s gone before, further ‘structural expenditure reductions’ totalling €325 million to close the 2012 fiscal gap.
Really, how much more oppressive does the EU think it can become before the people say ‘enough is enough’. The Eurogroup is demanding assurances by the leaders of the two Greek coalition parties that implementation of the programme will extend beyond the next General Election. It doesn’t say what will happen if these two parties are wiped out at the polls.
The Eurogroup also warns the Greeks that ‘further strengthening’ of Greece’s ‘institutional capacity’ is essential, with the EU Commission significantly enlarging its Troika Task Force through ‘an enhanced and permanent presence on the ground’ – bureaucrat-speak for indefinite occupation. The Troika also wants stronger on-site monitoring, presumably to ensure the Greek government doesn’t get away with any underhand tricks or funny business!
The Eurogroup acknowledges the ‘common understanding’ reached by the Greek government of the general terms under which Private Sector bondholders accept a ‘haircut’ of 53.5 per cent. Translated, this means that the entire rescue edifice depends upon these bondholders – banks, insurance companies, and pension funds – settling for a repayment of substantially less than half their original investment. Personally, if I lent someone €100 to be repaid in a year, but in the end received only €46, I’d consider I’d been swindled.
The Eurogroup statement goes on blithely to say that the necessary elements are now in place for European member states (including the UK) to bung even more of the assets of their cash-strapped citizens into the European Financial Stability Facility, which Includes a programme for the re-capitalisation of Greek banks. Isn’t it wonderful what can be done with other people’s money!
To be fair, not all is darkness. The report goes on to tell us that any profits generated by Eurosystem holdings of Greek debt will go to the European Central bank, filtering down eventually to your bank and mine. Fat chance!
If all these bits and pieces are put together, it sounds rather as if you, I, and our grandchildren, will be carrying Greece on our backs for generations to come, and indeed, the Eurogroup’s statement appears to confirm this in its final paragraph, which reiterates its commitment to providing adequate support to Greece for ‘the life of the programme AND BEYOND’!
Make no mistake, it’s the ordinary citizens, you and I, who are expected to pay for all this out of our own pockets via increased taxes and price-hikes, and yet politicians and financiers still wonder why High Street trade is in decline. Are these people incapable of understanding that, for most of us, money can only be spent once?
Despite everything, Greece still teeters on the brink. What will the EU do when the dominoes really start toppling?