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EU in Crisis
Immigration Crisis & Debt Crisis to Meet in Greece

Between the euro crisis, the immigration crisis, “contagion”, and the austerity wars, you may have found it a bit hard to keep track of all the crises affecting the EU. But good news! Soon they might all just merge into one—in Greece. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The International Monetary Fund says it can’t lend to Greece without radical spending cuts by Athens or costly debt forgiveness by Berlin. Greece’s key European interlocutor, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is under such political pressure at home over barely controlled migration inflows that she’s less able than before to take an unpopular stand over Greece’s debt woes.

The IMF’s tough demands for far-reaching fiscal retrenchment go well beyond what Syriza has signaled it is prepared to swallow, making Mr. Tsipras’s goal of a deal to unlock bailout money by late March improbable, European officials say. Some analysts believe Mr. Tsipras might opt for early elections if he can’t break the impasse with creditors.

Meanwhile growing tensions and finger-pointing between Greece and other European Union countries, including Austria and Slovakia, over migration is deepening many Greeks’ perception that their country is being made a scapegoat. A backdrop of popular hostility toward the EU—which a record 81% of Greeks now mistrust, according to a European Commission survey released on Monday—makes it harder for Mr. Tsipras to sell fiscal austerity measures demanded by European creditors and the IMF.


The Austrian-Balkan pact to shut the immigration pathway through south-eastern Europe and isolate the problem in Greece, which we have covered throughout this week, may have marked a serious escalation in the immigration crisis. It signaled that several EU countries no longer had faith in the bloc’s formal structures to deal with the problem, and as such severely restricted the room for maneuver in Brussels and Berlin going forward.

But it also, as this story indicates, piled more pressure on Greece at the worst possible time. The “Vienna Declaration” countries may think Greece is beyond help and/or unwilling to help itself, but there’s a reason European leaders have worried about contagion and precedent throughout both the financial and immigration crisis. Once a euro country defaults—once an EU nation is kicked out of Schengen—once a country that has cooperated (however grudgingly, at times) with Berlin’s & Brussels’ austerity programs over the years gets the shaft—then where do such things end? And what lessons will other EU countries draw from it?

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  • Aldus du Flaperon

    The problem with the current EU is that it does everything it can possibly do to avoid having to learn a lesson. This approach seems to have reached its end right now. And the Greek? They may have hoped to gain leverage from the immigration crisis, and are now unhappy to see that their neighbours refuse to put up with it any longer.

    • Fat_Man

      I think it was Talleyrand who said of the Bourbons that they forgot nothing, and learned nothing.

      • f1b0nacc1

        One of my favorite quotes, I actually use it to refer to a commenter here…

  • Andrew Allison

    I’m surprised that TAI hasn’t picked up on the disappearance from the government radar of 130,000 of the immigrants to Germany, and the implications thereof. While some of the disappearances may be due to multiple registrations, it seems pretty clear that many of them are people who prefer not to be identifiable.

    • ljgude

      I wasn’t aware of the discrepancy, but I think it is axiomatic that there are a fair few few jihadis in that lot. So it is now promoted to known known from known unknown. ;=)

  • CapitalHawk

    If I were Tsipras, I would send a note to Putin asking if he could spare a dime so that I could charter a ship or two (or ten) from Pireas (or Lesbos or wherever in Greece) to Hamburg, Germany. This ship would be loaded with refugees, of course. Putin will pay for that because (a) its relatively cheap and (b) he would love to cause some more trouble in the EU.

    Then tell the Germans that the money better start flowing to Greece or the ships will keep coming. Merkel was willing to pay the Turks to stop sending refugees, so she would pay the Greeks too. And the Germans will pay, because what else are they going to do – send the refugees back home? No. Sink the ship? No. Build a navy to stop the ships leaving port in Greece? No. Build an army to invade Greece? No. Refuse to allow the ship to dock in Hamburg? Maybe, but all you need to do is lower the ladders and tell the refugees that Germany awaits and watch them swim for it. Will the Germans let the drown? No.

    Ta Da! Greece’s refugee problem (which was caused by Merkel in the first place anyway) solved. Schengen will be completely destroyed, but again, that is ultimately Merkel’s fault anyway.

  • ljgude

    I’m not a Brex myself, just a Yank and an Aussie, but I’ll let out a hearty cheer if Old Blighty opts out of this mess.

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