EU Warns of Democracy Ending in Greece, Spain

Wednesday, 16 Jun 2010 09:39 AM

By Frank McGuire

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Democracy could “collapse” in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless the debt crisis is controlled, the head of the European Commission reportedly has warned.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso recently detailed his “apocalyptic” vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe are jolted by military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money, the London Daily Mail reported.

Greece, Spain and Portugal are facing dire problems with their public finances. All three countries have a history of military coups. Greece has been hit by a series of national strikes and riots this year following the announcement of drastic cuts to public spending.

Barroso also has warned Spain and Portugal that they will have to keep up their painful budget cuts into 2012 to curb deficits and regain investor confidence. "Without confidence coming back to the financial markets in Europe, we will not be able to achieve that higher level of growth ... that is why fiscal consolidation is so important," he said, according to the Associated Press.

John Monks, former head of the TUC, told the Daily Mail that he had been “shocked” by the severity of the warning from Barroso, who is a former prime minister of Portugal.

In an interview with the Brussels-based magazine EU Observer, Monks said: “This is extremely dangerous. This is 1931, we're heading back to the 1930s, with the Great Depression and we ended up with militarist dictatorship. I'm not saying we're there yet, but it's potentially very serious, not just economically, but politically as well.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission on Tuesday reviewed budget programs for Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia — which all use the euro — and the Czech Republic, which still has its own currency.

It said it had called on most of them to spell out clearly the cutbacks they are planning for the coming years as they aim to bring deficits below the 3 percent limit.

Belgium and Italy have a tighter deadline than the others and are supposed to reduce their deficits by 2012. Ireland has more time — until 2014 — and all the others have until 2013.

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