Thursday, 25 March 2010 07:15 GMT
The European Commission president has called on eurozone countries to decide on help for the debt crisis in Greece. Jose Manuel Barroso said the response was a test of EU leaders’ commitment to financial stability as they start their two-day summit in Brussels. But Germany, the largest economy in the euro-zone, is blocking a last-minute meeting of eurozone leaders. It wants the International Monetary Fund to play a key role, and sanctions for countries that break budget rules. It is not formally on the summit agenda but Greece is on everybody’s mind. With German taxpayers fiercely opposed to bailing out the debt-ridden country, Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the IMF to take the lead in a joint package with the EU. It would be the first time a eurozone country is rescued from Washington and some fear that would further weaken the euro.
The president of the European Commission made an urgent appeal to EU leaders to create a safety net for Greece. Their response, he said, would be a test of their commitment to European and monetary union. Mr Barroso happens to be a former prime minister of Portugal, whose debt was downgraded on Wednesday, in a move that heightened fears that the Greek crisis is
BBC NEWS | 09:52 GMT | Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks are on strike to protest at the imposition of austerity measures to save the economy. Greece’s airspace will be closed to all flights, trains and ferries will stand idle, and archaeological sites shut. It is the second general strike in two weeks and coincides with growing anger at the EU’s response to the crisis. The action is set to be the biggest since Greece’s socialist government introduced cuts to bring the country’s debt and deficit under control. Greece currently has a spiralling public deficit of 12.7%, more than four times higher than Eurozone rules allow. The government has pledged to cut this to 8.7% this year, and also reduce the 300bn-euro ($419bn; £259bn) national debt, by freezing public sector salaries, raising the average retirement age to 63 by 2015, and increasing taxes on petrol, alcohol and tobacco. It also wants to crack down on tax avoidance. Greece’s black economy is estimated at 30% of official gross domestic product.
The BBC’s Malcolm Brabant in Athens says that for the second time this month, Greece will be isolated from the rest of the world for 24 hours as all flights into and out of the country have been cancelled. Commuters will be left without most forms of public transport, while public schools, ministries, and municipal offices will be closed. Many hospitals will operate only with emergency staffing. Archaeological sites, including the Acropolis, will be closed to tourists, chipping away at the country’s international image, our correspondent says. Two separate Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2010/01/29 | 11:25:43 GMT
EU Unemployment Rates
- Highest: Latvia – 22.8%, Spain – 19.5%, Estonia – 15.2%
- Lowest: Netherlands – 4.0%, Austria – 5.4%, Cyprus – 6.1%
- Source: Eurostat
Unemployment in the 16 countries that use the euro hit 10% in December for the first time since the single currency was introduced in 1999. It had been reported that the rate hit 10% in November, but this has subsequently been revised down to 9.9%. Some 15.8 million people are now out of work in the eurozone, according to Eurostat. Across all 27 countries that make up the EU, there are now 23 million people unemployed.
Latvia has the highest jobless rate in the EU at 22.8%. Spain continues to have the highest rate in the eurozone – rising to 19.5% in December, up from 19.4% in November. The Netherlands has the lowest jobless rate at 4%, followed by Austria at 5.4%. Some 21% of under-25s in the eurozone were unemployed in December 2009, with Spain suffering the highest rate of all, at 44.5%. According to Eurostat, a total of 87,000 jobs were lost across the eurozone during December. That was the lowest increase since May 2008.
Responding to the figures, Howard Archer from IHS Global Insight says eurozone unemployment will increase further in the coming year. “Although the rise in eurozone unemployment has slowed in recent months, it still seems poised to trend higher during much, if not all, of 2010,” he said. Separate figures released by the country’s National Statistics Institute show that in the final three months of 2009, 4.33 million people were unemployed in Spain.