• Germany edition
 
Opinion
'Germany must give Greece more help'
Photo: DPA

'Germany must give Greece more help'

Published: 27 Aug 2013 14:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 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.”

BACK ON THE FRONT PAGE

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".

PLAYING DOWN THE COSTS

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.

DO GERMAN VOTERS CARE?

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Manhunt on for police officer's killer
Police searching the area on Thursday morning have released an e-fit of the suspect. Photo: DPA/Polizei Hessen

Manhunt on for police officer's killer

A police officer was shot dead in a street in western Germany on Wednesday night, prompting a large-scale manhunt for the culprit. READ  

'Auschwitz criminal,' 89, dies ahead of extradition
Photo: DPA

'Auschwitz criminal,' 89, dies ahead of extradition

An 89-year-old American and alleged Nazi war criminal died just hours before a US court approved his extradition to Germany, his lawyer said late on Wednesday. READ  

Robots could take half of jobs in Germany
The employee of the future? Photo: DPA

Robots could take half of jobs in Germany

More than half of the jobs currently being done in Germany could be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, according to a think-tank. READ  

Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Prisoners of War pictured in 1918. Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825

Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online

Hundreds of thousands of rare records and images from World War I have been put online by the German government, ahead of Monday's 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict. READ  

Merkel to push for 'swift' EU Russia sanctions
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin chat with Fifa President Sepp Blatter (c) in Brazil before the 2014 World Cup final. Photo: DPA

Merkel to push for 'swift' EU Russia sanctions

UPDATE: Russia's failure to help quell the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and fully assist the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 demanded a tough response, a German government spokesman said on Wednesday. READ  

Löw to remain Germany coach to 2016
Joachim Löw (l) during a coaching session in Brazil. Photo:DPA

Löw to remain Germany coach to 2016

UPDATE: Joachim Löw will remain German national football team coach following the World Cup victory in Brazil, he confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
A pro-Palestine demonstration in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests

Demands are growing in Germany for the prosecution of protesters in Berlin, Frankfurt and other cities who led anti-Semitic chants and incited violence against Jews over Israel's military offensive in Gaza. READ  

The Local List
The 12 best words in the German language
Photo: DPA

The 12 best words in the German language

The Local List has covered all aspects of German words, from the untranslatable to the longest. But we've never done a ranking of what are simply the best words in the German language, until now... READ  

Munich police find 49 refugees on one train
Police arrested three Italians for allegedly driving 25 Syrians into Germany on Tuesday. Photo: Bundespolizei

Munich police find 49 refugees on one train

Police in Munich found 49 refugees on one train which arrived at the city’s central station from Italy on Monday night. Officers in the Bavarian capital have reported a “huge increase” in the number of people arriving illegally over the last few weeks at Munich's train terminal. READ  

Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Coach Joachim Löw ensured his team had a yoga instructor with them at all times. Photo: DPA

Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home

Germany’s World Cup winning football team have revealed one of the secrets of their success in Brazil this summer – yoga. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Joachim Löw: A career in pictures
Photo: Submitted
Society
Is this expat cat the world's oldest?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
National
Heatwave to bring highs of 36C to Germany
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Should Germany follow France and ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,236
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd