Finance News

Greece win an extension on their EU debt in a dance of politics

The recent struggle between Greece, the EU and Russia has been a strange game, with no one particularly satisfied by the outcome. Greece’s new government were elected on the promise that they would scrap the nation's debt to the EU, which was understandably met with consternation by other EU members.

There has been speculation that Greece has been offered financial aid from Russia, in exchange for influence and possible separation from the EU. Germany would be in a particular state of unrest as Greece’s biggest creditor, not to mention the political ramifications of Russia's continued antagonism.

Germany's argument against Greece avoiding their debt repayments is that it sets a dangerous precedent. It's a tacit endorsement of being able to cripple oneself financial before hitting the reset button. Indeed, if this were a commercial business, seizing assets to recoup the debt owed would be the next step. It's slightly more problematic to send in repo men to haul off the Parthenon.

It's obviously an absurd notion to have to recoup losses from an entire country, and it appears Greece are using this as leverage in their negotiations. From the perspective of Greek citizens, their cards are already on the table voicing their opinions through election votes. The government's lofty election promises seem slightly absurd in the cold light of day, but this means the government will be all the more vociferous in finding the best deal for Greece, whether or not they're playing fair.

If Greece had not managed to arrange a deal on their debt, we can presume this would have led to default and massive devaluation of the country, with other nations refusing to lend on any level - not just the huge cash supply a countries need to run, but even credit on acquisitions. It was quite a gamble they played with the EU, but they seem be coming out on top of this game of Chicken.

The recent political friction between the EU and Russia, centred principal on their refusal to respect Ukrainian sovereignty, is likely to mean the EU is not going to willingly provide Russia with a potential ally. The new Greek government are already within Putin's circle of influence, being friendly for several years and already voting against further sanctions against Russia.

EU ministers will also be aware that pushing Greece's debt repayment too hard will force them to take out further loans, ad infinitum, pushing them further into debt and reducing the likelihood that the EU will ever actually be paid.

The four-month loan extension (with a few changes on the contract) has been agreed, as EU ministers recognise that in the long term this is likely to benefit all. This  gives everyone a bit more time to decide on the next step.

With the long-term view of expanding the EU, providing business with a larger number of easy to reach customers and a wider area of employment is likely to improve the living standards of a large number of Europeans.

This decision is not likely to please everyone. The EU governing body need to satisfy such a wide range of personal beliefs, religions and economic classes throughout a diverse continent. The decision has been made as something everyone can appreciate, keeping public moral closer to optimism and positivity.

At the same time, there's the very real possibility that this entire cycle could repeat itself in four months.