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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid