GREECE has completed a three-year eurozone emergency loan programme worth 61.9bn euros (£55bn; $70.8bn). This was part of the biggest bailout in global financial history, totalling some 289bn euros, which was secured only through the imposition of massive austerity measures, and which will take the Greek working class and youth four decades of even more austerity to repay.
Greek capitalism remains a huge rock around the necks of the Greek workers – ahead is more penal servitude for Greek workers and youth to repay the debt. The massively unpopular cuts to public spending and privatisations, all conditions of the bailout, are set to continue. However the economy has been destroyed and is still 25% smaller than when the crisis began.
‘From today, Greece will be treated like any other Europe area country,’ the EU’s Commissioner on Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, declared on Monday. The Greek reforms had, he said, ‘laid the foundation for a sustainable recovery’, but he cautioned that recovery was ‘not an event, it is a process’.
The truth is that the austerity accords have not ended at all. They are to continue for the next 40 years as Greece will be paying back the EU-IMF loans with interest. To make sure that austerity is carried on, EU-IMF teams will inspect Greek government spending in Athens every three months.
The whole of the Greek economy, the whole of the state’s income (taxes etc) are not under the control of an elected Minister and government, but under the so-called Independent Authority which is appointed by the creditors and where their representatives have a veto! In this way they can protect the bankers and the banks. Of all of the 321bn euros bail-out, some 80% was paid to mainly French and German banks! Thus the euro was saved from a collapse and the Eurozone remained intact by the enslavement of the Greek workers.
In Athens, volunteers now run food handout stations and say that ‘The numbers are actually rising,’ adding: ‘The bailout might be ending on paper – but not in reality.’ A lady spoke openly about the ordeal of the Greek workers. ‘I don’t see the crisis coming to an end,’ she says. ‘We are stressed and angry because we don’t have jobs.’ Another women said: ‘The crisis was a slap in the face. We had grown up accustomed to the benefits of living in a European country and suddenly everything came crashing down.’
Some 300,000 Greeks have emigrated in search of work since the crisis began. Greece’s unemployment rate peaked at 27.5% in 2013 – but for those under 25 it was more than double that, at 58%. Last year, more than four in every ten young Greeks were still jobless. While Greece’s economy has stabilised, its accumulated debt pile stands at about 180% of GDP. Under a deal hammered out with other eurozone states in June, it must keep strict control over its public spending, running a budget surplus, before interest payments, of at least 2.2% of GDP until the year 2060.
Some analysts predict it will still be paying off its current debt after 2060. Professor Costas Meghir, an economist with Yale University based in the Greek capital Athens said: ‘The Greek government has to be even more disciplined now because it has to rely on foreign markets at reasonable interest rates to be able to borrow.’
Since first elected in February 2015 the leader of the Coalition of the Left, Alexis Tsipras, formed a coalition government with the small right-wing party, Independent Greeks. In July 2015 a referendum was held in Greece which rejected the austerity accords by 62%. Despite this, Tsipras went ahead and signed with the EU, ECB and the IMF a new, third in a row, austerity programme which continued the slashing of wages and pensions, imposition of very high taxes and huge rises in household bills, the sell off of state properties and public companies, the privatisation of all sea-ports and airports, along with colossal cuts in health, education and social care. He sold out the Greek workers, to save the EU.
In the struggle directly ahead, the Greek workers will build a new and revolutionary leadership, a section of the Fourth International, that will oppose all cuts and austerity measures and unite with the working class of Europe to overthrow the EU and its ruling bankers and bosses and replace both with the Socialist United States of Europe!