Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001. What impact did these two events have on the Greek economy? Within the general boom conditions across Europe pre-2007, Greece also boomed, but this hid the real underlying weaknesses of the Greek economy, in particular its declining productivity.

The suffering of the Greek people is deep, very deep. Austerity is pushing larger and larger sections of the population into poverty. With this comes also a seriously worsening healthcare situation which is a direct consequence of the cuts imposed by the Troika, and suicides have also been going up in line with the increase in unemployment.

One year ago 60% of the Greek population said OXI [No] to the Troika’s austerity. One year later we see austerity continuing and getting much worse! I have been travelling to Greece at least once a year for close to twenty years to attend meetings and conferences and in the recent period the decline in living standards has been palpable.

Greece has been in and out of the news headlines, as other more pressing events push it into the background, such as the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, or the risk of a Brexit vote in the UK referendum on the EU, or the tumultuous class conflict gripping France. Nonetheless, Greece remains the weak point within the EU. Its crisis is being “managed”, i.e. delayed, but the country moves inexorably onwards towards a major crisis that will affect the whole of Europe.

On Sunday, May 22nd, the Greek Parliament voted in favour of a new austerity package. The austerity measures include a raise in taxes of 2.8 billion euros, the largest privatisation programme in the history of the country and the acceptance of an automatic mechanism that triggers generalised cuts in the event of excessive budget deficits in the future.

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