Greek dockers have protested against one of their government’s first measures to liberalise the country’s restrictive labour market and make it more competitive.
Athens is asking the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund for a bailout while
Greece’s Finance Minister, George Papaconstantinou has tried to quell Greek fears that the financial future is bleak.
“On May 19 we must repay a maturing bond of about nine billion euros. Until then our borrowing needs are covered but conditions in markets today are totally prohibitive for borrowing,” said Papaconstantinou.
It was investor jitters over Greece’s debt repayment programme that drove its borrowing costs up to a 12-year peak.
The government has already announced billions of euros in budget cuts, including tax increases and public sector wage freezes. But to get Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, to back the bailout, it needs to do more.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany will help if the requirements are fulfilled. “Because only if this programme is sustainable will we have a chance to ensure the stability of the Euro permanently.”
Time is of the essence; there are concerns that Greece could be the first of several eurozone countries to slide into bankruptcy – the consequences of that will be untold damage to the euro and the rest of the bloc’s economic health.