News / Europe

Europeans Brace for Hard Times, Economic Woes

As economic crises intensify in Europe, governments are cutting budgets and ordinary people are tightening their belts.  Even richer countries, like the Netherlands, are bracing for hard times to come. 

Amsterdam's residents took full advantage of the past week's unusual warm and sunny days, setting out chairs alongside the city's many canals to drink and talk.  Others, like 32-year-old Sam Van de Pol, wandered through outdoor markets, checking out stands selling cheese, clothes or vegetables.

Van de Pol is bracing for stormier weather. Not the impending winter, but chances that economic growth in prosperous Netherlands may slow down.  He is out of work, and fears his unemployment benefits may shrink next year.

"And even if it's not so much consequences for me, I'm already in the system, there will be some serious consequences for the people who are not in this position and who need this kind of help," he said.

Fall out of eurozone's financial crisis

Protesters shout slogans during demonstration in Athens, Greece, October 5, 2011.
Protesters shout slogans during demonstration in Athens, Greece, October 5, 2011.

While tough austerity measures in debt-strapped Greece have sparked massive protests, the fallout of the eurozone's financial crisis is beginning to be felt elsewhere.

Banks in Germany and France that have lent massive amounts to Greece, Portugal and other struggling economies are beginning to teeter.  Fears are growing that taxpayers in richer nations like the Netherlands will be bailing out poorer ones.  And a slew of recent forecasts, including one by the International Monetary Fund this past week, are revising down growth estimates across the 17 nations that use the euro currency.

Even countries outside the eurozone, like Britain, are passing austerity budgets.  In an address to his party this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron tried to rally Britons for the hard times ahead.

"I know how tough things are," he said.  'I don't underestimate for one minute how worried people feel - whether that's about making ends meet or the state of the world economy.  But the truth is, right now we need to be energized, not paralyzed, by gloom and doom."

Uncertain future

In France, Parisians like 45-year-old business owner Marc Bakous are uncertain about the future.

The problem, Bakous says, is that nobody knows what's going on.  The government doesn't say much. People are afraid; they don't know how the government is going to get out of the larger financial crisis.

Like Britain, France also is cutting spending, an unpopular move just a few months before presidential elections.  Opposition parties have been quick to criticize a new 2012 austerity bill introduced by President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government.

In an interview on French radio, leading presidential hopeful Martine Aubrey of the opposition Socialist Party said that while France's budget deficit needs to be reduced, the country also needs economic growth, jobs and more competitiveness.

Vivien Pertusot, head of the Brussels office of the French Institute for International Relations, says these concerns are reflected elsewhere in Europe.

"People are increasingly realizing that the crisis is going to be hitting very, very hard.  It's been difficult already, but it's going to be more difficult in the coming months and the coming years.  This is something everyone understands and fears," said Pertusot.

In Amsterdam, the financial crisis still feels very far away.  Some Dutch, like Joris Montens, who owns an art gallery, also feel stronger for having survived the last economic downturn, in 2008.

"My first experience in selling art was to law firms and other kinds of enterprises, who just in the downturn of 2008 decided not to buy art any more.  If a company has to let go of 20-30 persons, then it's not the best time to invest in art," Montens.

But Montens got creative, handing out flyers door to door to attract new customers to his gallery.  Today, he believes the solution to Europe's financial crisis is not just an economic one, but a human one.  He believes richer Europeans should help out poorer ones, and ensure that the fundamental concept of a European Union survives.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid