Standort: / Meldung: "The EUROundabout that keeps on turning"

Kate Farmer

Cutting to the chase

3. 10. 2011 - 14:24

The EUROundabout that keeps on turning

Reality Check: Greece to miss deficit target, Occupy Wall Street, Haqqani network, Haiti update, Equador's Yasuni National Park protection plan.

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"Greece", "austerity", "bailout" and "euro crisis" are term that we've been bandying around for a couple of years. A never ending series of crisis meetings of finance ministers, bankers, and greek politicians - and, of course, the popular protests against austerity measures have become a normal backdrop to European news.

Just as we were becoming numb to any more financial news from Greece, the spotlight started to swing around Europe with Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland all coming under the scrutiny of the prophets of doom.

I've tried to keep up with it, I really have, but there is a point at which my head starts to spin, and today it has started to whirl.

Only a few months ago, there was the huge drama over Greece's austerity measures. Crisis meeting after crisis meeting, parliamentary votes, pushing and shoving and arm twisting on all fronts to get Greece its second bailout, that the EU would only agree on as long as Greece met particular deficit targets. Well, that was the plan. Greece came up with the budget cuts, but the EU still couldn't agree on whether to come up with the funds, and has been having crisis meetings ever since to try and find a solution.

Admittedly, it is a long time since I studied economics, but I don't think one needs a degree in it to work out that if you make a load of people redundant or cut their pay, they will have less money, will therefore spend less, and therefore shrink the whole economy. Additionally, people who are unemployed claim unemployment benefit which costs the government money, whereas if they are employed, they pay tax and provide revenue for the government. Put all this together, and it's clear that the austerity measures would shrink the Greek economy.

Now we have the announcement that Greece will not meet its deficit target - in other words, it will not meet the conditions laid down for the bailout. Surely, this must overturn all these months of negotiations and deal making? Apparently not. Analyst Markus Marterbauer from the Arbeiterkammer says the bailout will have to be paid anyway. It is me, or did the roundabout just start turning a bit faster? What was all the drama about the austerity measures if the bailout wasn't really at stake? Markus says Greece has missed its target not because it didn't implement the austerity measures, but because the economy shrunk too fast. Am I missing something here. Isn't that what austerity measures do - shrink the economy?

Markus also says the key to solving the problem for Greece is to boost employment. It's over 40% youth unemployment is an economic, political and social problem - and that could be a long term threat to confidence in Europe. Now, that makes sense to me - the common sense that so much of this saga seems to be lacking.

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Occupy Wall Street

Steve Crilley reports on the Occupy Wall Street movement and their demonstrations that saw over 700 arrests at the weekend as protesters tried to cross New York's Brooklyn Bridge.

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The Haqqani network

The Afghan militant group, the Haqqani network, has been accused of orchestrating the recent speight of attacks in Kabul. However, in an unprecedented interview with the BBC, the group's leader, Siraj Haqqani, said the group was not responsible for the suicide attack on Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was overseeing negotiations with the Taliban, and denied any links to the Pakistani spy agency, ISI.
Out security analyst, Paul Rogers, told Joanna Bostock, about their group and their background.

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Haiti update

While Haiti may no longer be top of the news, the situation on the ground is as desperate as ever for many hundreds of thousands of Haitians.

The president, Michel Martelly, is now proposing restoring the armed forces that were disbanded in the 1990s. Jimmy Felter of The Voice of Haiti told Riem Higazi about the problems Haitians are facing, especially now that most international aid agencies have pulled out of the country.

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The Yasuni Initiative

Ecuador's Yasuni National Park is a unique site of plant and animal biodiversity because of its unusual geological history, but for the same reason it's also situated over massive oil reserves. The Yasuni Initiative is a groundbreaking plan to appeal to the International Community to pay for the land NOT to be developed for oil. The head of the initiative's negotiating team, Ivonne Baki, told Joanna Bostock about the plan to save the Yasuni.

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