• Germany's news in English

'Germany must give Greece more help'

The Local · 27 Aug 2013, 14:45

Published: 27 Aug 2013 14:45 GMT+02:00

An article in newspaper the Tagesspiegel on Monday argued that Greece must be given more help, either by writing off some of its debts or with a fresh bailout.

Commentator Harald Schumman argued: “The attempt to tame Greece’s debt by cutting the government budget has clearly failed.

“The Greek government has cut its budget by 24 percent since 2009. The economy has been so badly damaged that the debt burden – the ratio of debt to GDP – has increased to more than 160 percent.

“Changing tack is urgent. At the moment a third of the Greek population is living in poverty. The country doesn’t need more emergency credit but a proper programme of help which stimulates investment shifts perspectives.

“Investment will not come until the future of the euro is secure. Overcoming this insecurity must be the priority.”


Greece’s shaky finances and to what extent Germany is responsible for them, finally entered the election campaign last week when Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble admitted the country would need another rescue package from 2014, seen as marking a shift in Berlin's position.

Opponents seized on the admission by Schäuble playing up the image of the poor German taxpayer working hard to pay once again for the Greeks.

"Schäuble confirms what everyone knew," headlined the top-selling Bild daily, ever ready to defend the taxpayers of Europe's largest economy and the biggest eurozone paymaster.

For the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green opposition, the confession by a Merkel loyalist was a godsend.

Much of Merkel's huge popularity has been due to the perception in her country that she has managed the eurozone crisis prudently, looking after the German public purse.

For months she has enjoyed a personal poll lead of nearly 30 points over her Social Democratic rival Peer Steinbrück, who was her finance minister in a 2005-09 Grand Coalition government.

He accused the coalition government of Merkel's conservatives and the Free Democrats of having "distributed sleeping pills and trying to hide the fact that stabilising the eurozone will have a cost".


The conservatives have tried to extinguish the fire which Schäuble lit.

Schäuble insisted that the third European Union and International Monetary Fund programme of assistance for Athens would be "much smaller" than the previous two.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Sunday that if a third bailout was needed in 2014, it would be worth around €10 billion euros and would not be contingent upon new austerity measures.

Merkel, meanwhile, has said that Greece's debt and structural reforms would again be studied in 2014, as planned.

"I will certainly not weaken the incentive for Greece to implement further necessary reforms by commenting now on the outcome of a programme that is set to run for another year," she told the Tuesday edition of the Saarbrücker Zeitung.

Like Schäuble, she has insisted there will be no new 'haircut', warning that another Greek debt write-down could spark a "domino effect of uncertainty" and scare off investors in the eurozone.


Despite the war of words, the effect on the polls has so far been limited in the election race, where the future of the eurozone has not figured prominently.

According to a poll published Sunday, the conservatives and their junior partners would get a total of 45 percent, against a combined 37 percent for the SPD and their preferred allies the Greens.

Lothar Probst, a political scientist at Bremen University warned that Greece “spells a certain risk for the conservative Merkel, because so far the Germans have felt their savings were secure.”

But Professor Michael Wohlgemuth, director of think-tank Open Europe Berlin, told The Local that even Schäuble’s comments would not make Greece and a potential bailout from German taxpayers a decisive campaign issue.

“The SPD have not got a solution either,” he said. “People may even think that the SPD would be more willing to spend more money on Greece.”

AFP/The Local/tsb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Activists love-bomb NSA with 'quit spying' leaflets
The entrance to the Dagger Complex in Darmstadt. Photo: DPA

Activists love-bomb NSA with 'quit spying' leaflets

18 minutes ago

An anti-spying organisation used a drone to drop leaflets over an NSA complex in southern Germany last week, hoping to persuade spooks to chose another line of work.

Greenpeace mulls jump into brown coal biz
Photo: DPA.

Greenpeace mulls jump into brown coal biz

38 minutes ago

It might sound like one of the environmental group's protest stunts, but Greenpeace insists it really does want to buy up a series of German brown coal mines and plants offered for sale by Swedish power company Vattenfall.

Volkswagen scandal
VW 'will need bigger cash pile to pay fines'
VW boss Matthias Müller speaking to the press on September 25th. Photo: DPA

VW 'will need bigger cash pile to pay fines'

40 minutes ago

The new chief of scandal-hit Volkswagen braced his workforce for tough times ahead on Tuesday, admitting that billions laid aside for fines and damages arising from a massive pollution cheating scam will not be enough.

Rare whale makes home in north German bay
The North Atlantic beaked whale. Photo: DPA

Rare whale makes home in north German bay

1 hour ago

A beaked whale has made itself a home of the Baltic coast of Germany, an unusual location for the Atlantic mammal. Now conservationists are trying to get him out deeper into the Baltic.

Munich bomb 'can't be defused on scene'
Aircraft in the air and space hall of the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Photo: DPA

Munich bomb 'can't be defused on scene'

4 hours ago

UPDATE: Police in Munich say that a bomb found in the Deutsches Museum must be moved to a safe location on Tuesday evening before experts can defuse it.

Johann the pig's udderly adorable new family
Johann found love among the herd in Göttingen. Photo: DPA.

Johann the pig's udderly adorable new family

3 hours ago

For one plucky pig in Lower Saxony, mingling with his own species just didn't appeal. The wild hog decided to make friends in higher places – by joining a herd of cows on a Göttingen farm.

Klopp to LIverpool
Can Klopp breath life back into the Liver bird?
Jürgen Klopp. Photo: DPA

Can Klopp breath life back into the Liver bird?

5 hours ago

Liverpool FC are a club with great history who have been mired in mediocrity for years. Is Germany's favourite coach the man to come to their rescue?

Hitler actor warns of threat to democracy
Oliver Massuci in costume as Hitler stretches a fist out over Berlin. Photo: Constantin Film Verleih GmbH/DPA

Hitler actor warns of threat to democracy

5 hours ago

Oliver Masucci, the actor who plays Hitler in satirical film Er Ist Wieder Da (Look Who's Back), told ARD news on Monday that Germany must be careful to safeguard its democracy after a barrage of far-right comments from ordinary people.

Refugee crisis
Four-fifths of Germans want border controls
A conference hall in Brandenburg set up as temporary refugee accommodation. Photo: DPA

Four-fifths of Germans want border controls

7 hours ago

Four-fifths of respondents told pollsters that they were in favour of border controls in a new survey released on Monday.

Klopp 'offered 3 year Liverpool deal': reports
Photo: DPA

Klopp 'offered 3 year Liverpool deal': reports

8 hours ago

Liverpool FC bosses have opened negotiations with former Borussia Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp and are confident of bringing him aboard, British media reported on Tuesday.

Are the German public too happy to see Hitler?
Government blocks plans for Berlin 'cannabis cafes'
'Der Klassiker': no classic at all for Dortmund
Dortmund fans' bad behaviour in Thessaloniki
UK Ambassador wants more young Brits in Germany
How Snoop Dogg dissed Munich hip hop scene
More wind power generated so far in 2015 than all of 2014
Rent a nuclear bunker near Berlin for just €3,000 a month
German universities leap up world elite rankings
Business & Money
What to do if you own a cheating Volkswagen
Homeland star's fave Berlin spot is Berghain
Why Dresden Buddhists won't be using the swastika symbol
Mystery of 'murdered' student found alive after 31 years
What wearable technology might look like in the future
Why vegetarian food is more German than a Bratwurst
The very best of traditional German vegetarian food
The secret to more travel for less
The first glimpse of Neptune - from an observatory in Berlin
How VW was rebuilt from nothing... by an English army officer
Our favourite songs about Germany by foreigners
Expats' loves and hates about Germany
Court thinks Sphynx cats are too weird to be allowed to breed
Business & Money
What do cars mean to the Germans?
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd