Learn from Athens, not Berlin, says German paper

9th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Europe should look to Greece rather than Germany for lessons on how to cut the deficit, Germany's economic Handelsblatt newspaper said on Wednesday after Berlin announced its own austerity measures.

"Europeans can now learn from Greece, rather than Germany, how to consolidate a budget," the paper said in an editorial.

Berlin has been at the forefront in Europe in calling for sound public finances, and has strongly criticized Greece for running huge deficits. Some German MPs have even suggested that Greece sell some of its islands to make ends meet.

But saving plans announced on Monday by Chancellor Angela Merkel have disappointed liberals who believe they do not go far enough, while angering left-wing parties and trade unions who consider them unfair.

Greece, with an accumulated debt of nearly 300 billion euros (368 billion dollars), has adopted sweeping austerity measures, including tax hikes, wage and pension cuts and a hiring freeze in the civil service.

Greece "was brave enough to do away with inefficient state apparatus structures and for imposing bruising financial cuts to its own electoral base. But you can't say the same about the coalition" of conservatives and liberals ruling in Berlin, Handelsblatt added.

© 2010 AFP

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