Greece exits EU bailout program

AthensAfter eight years of turmoil and brutal austerity, Greece has finally emerged from its bailout program, yesterday.

The European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund provided Greece with €289 billion across three bailout programs in 2010, 2012 and 2015. The level of assistance has proven the biggest bailout in global financial history and now Greece can borrow at market rates for the first time in eight years.

As a condition of the loans, the Greek government was forced to introduce a series of tough and unpopular austerity measures.

The Greek economy has grown slowly in recent years but is still 25% smaller than when the crisis began, according to reports.

“Today we can safely conclude the ESM programme with no more follow-up rescue programmes as, for the first time since early 2010, Greece can stand on its own feet,” Mario Centeno, the chairman of the Eurozone’s European Stability Mechanism (ESM) rescue fund, said in a statement.

“This was possible thanks to the extraordinary effort of the Greek people, the good cooperation with the current Greek government and the support of European partners through loans and debt relief,” he said.

A further 24.1 billion euros that was available to Athens under the programme was not needed, the fund said.

Post–bailout, Greece has committed to demanding primary budget surpluses – excluding debt servicing outlays – of 3.5% of the country’s annual economic output until 2022, and 2.2% until 2060. The wounds of the debt crisis are still healing.

“Greece is finally exiting, albeit formally, a long bailout period that left behind 924,000 jobless, shut down 250,000 businesses and left most Greeks owing an internal debt of €227 billion to the taxman, pension funds and to banks,” said Vassilis Korkidis, head of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce.

He said it was more a day of reckoning and not of celebrating as the bailouts may be over but austerity measures and taxes continue to squeeze Greeks.

Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, is expected to address the nation today to mark Greece regaining fiscal sovereignty and the ability to set its own economic policies.