News / Europe

Europe Talks Austerity

Multimedia

David Dyar

Austerity is on everyone's mind as European governments -- one after another -- introduce spending cuts to get deficits under control and shore up the beleaguered Euro. Most experts agree belt-tightening is needed, but it's not always popular and comes at a cost, often to social benefits. 

Austerity is the order of the day and it's not always popular as deadly riots in Greece recently proved.

Still, parliaments across Europe are debating how to reduce deficits and where to cut.  And that includes Europe's economic giant.

The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed on budget cuts and new taxes to bring Germany's deficit within the European Union limit of 3 percent of GDP.  "We have difficult times. We cannot afford everything  we wish for if we want to create the future," she said.

The aim is to save nearly $100 billion by 2014.   

Europe's tilt toward austerity is driven by the current financial crisis, says political analyst Cornelius Adebahr, of the German Council on Foreign Relations. "We've seen the example of Greece, where there was no more trust in the Greek government's ability to cut down the budget, to contain the debt or to keep it under control," he said.

The Greek government's near default on its loans triggered the financial crisis and also threatened the euro and countries using it.

Germany is a major part of the European Union bail-out plan for Greece. While its economy is in much better shape than that of Greece, many Germans seem to agree  austerity is needed.  

"We have to start and not postpone it again," one German said.  "I think everyone should do their part, including those who are better off financially," said another.

Germany has traditionally been fiscally conservative and Germans are viewed as prudent with their money.  

And with budget cuts on everyone's agenda, the question now is where will they come from and will they endanger the German social safety net.

Germany -- like most of Europe -- has a broad safety net: benefits for the poor and unemployed, universal health care and good pensions.   

Many would not want to give them up.  But Adebahr says many young people do not believe they will get those same benefits.  "If you ask them whether they will receive a pension and what age, they say "I'm not sure whether I will be in the position of pensioners of today," he said.

Jobless and health care benefits have already been reduced. Plus, the retirement age has been raised.

But, many Germans say austerity must not cut too deep into their cherished welfare state.

Artur Fischer, head of the Berlin Stock Exchange, is one of them. "I want to live in a country where people have a minimum to live somewhat of a happy life. Therefore I am willing to give away, through taxes and through other means, part of my income as a person and a lot of other people think the same," he said.

In general, Germans want the social contract maintained and are willing to sacrifice to keep it - for themselves and future generations.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs