ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on Greece’s exit from its bailout program (all times local):
Even though the European Union welcomes Monday’s end of Greece bailout program as the beginning of a new era, it does recognize many Greeks will not see it as an immediate improvement.
EU Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said Monday he was “conscious that all those people may not feel that their situation has yet improved much — if at all.”
He painted a bleak picture of “retirees who saw their pensions slashed. The workers who lost their jobs. The families who lost their homes. Parents who saw their children leave the country for a better future elsewhere.”
Moscovici told the Greeks that his message is “simple: Europe will continue to work with you and for you.” He said that even though errors were made during the bailout programs, the situation would have been even worse for Athens had there been no intervention from the European partners.
The European Union is welcoming Monday’s end to Greece’s bailout program and says it hopes it is the beginning of a new era for the debt-laden eurozone member state.
EU Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that for the 19-nation eurozone it also “draws a symbolic line under an existential crisis” that saw Greece get close to being kicked out of the group.
The crisis came to a breaking point in the summer of 2015, when Greece had to accept more austerity measures to get another bailout package.
Overall, Greece has gotten some 290 billion euros ($330 billion) in loans over the past years, including 256 billion euros ($292 billion) from its European partners.
There’ll be no dizzy dancing in the moonlit streets of Athens.
For all the official pronouncements that Greece’s eight-year crisis will be over as its third and last bailout program ends Monday, few Greeks see cause for celebration.
Undeniably, the economy is once again growing modestly, state finances are improving, exports are up and unemployment is down from a ghastly 28 percent high.
But one in five Greeks are still unemployed, with few receiving state benefits, underpaid drudgery is the norm in new hirings, the average income has dropped by more than a third, and taxes have rocketed. Clinical depression is rife, suicides are up, and hundreds of thousands of skilled workers have flitted abroad.