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Opinion

The need to stay together

A Eurozone exit of Greece seems to become more and more likely. A variety of scenarios for the eventual return to a national currency are already being circulated. With them, differing descriptions of the consequences. What they (the serious and somewhat respectable ones) have in common is the immense initial chaos and the following long period of economic hardship for Greece.
One could hold that as long as it could be guaranteed that a Greek exit would not dramatically increase the threat to countries such as Spain or Portugal, it would be the right path to take. It would provide a clear end to an otherwise open-ended drama. And didn’t the Greek people manoeuvre themselves into this dismal situation? First by overspending drastically for many years and allowing their economy, plagued by an inefficient bureaucratic body, to remain relatively uncompetitive. Second, by now making matters worse: the recent elections left the country without a proper government and whether the situation will change after next month’s rerun is doubtable.

Better an end with terror than terror without an end. This conclusion thus seems all too tempting. But a Greek exit of the Eurozone would also entail Greece leaving the EU. And in its current state the country would have no hope to be readmitted any time soon. Do we really want to see Europe start falling apart this way? A Greek exit, forced upon the country by domestic discontent with austerity and an end of the Troika’s patience, would send a disastrous message: In Europe we show you the door if you misbehave. Your misbehaviour might be of partial benefit to others (Greek debts financing German trade surplus…) and our drastic demands might threaten the society’s institutions, the social cohesion and the democracy of your country while contributing to bringing extremist political forces to power; but we punish you and show you the door nonetheless.
Such treatment would be an outright betrayal of the European ideals of integration and reconciliation, and leave Greece more or less on its own, looking for new supporters (Russia?) or more and more collapse under its no doubt enormous problems.

That would be a political and moral failure for Europe.

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