Greece can survive, says Schieder

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Finance Secretary Andreas Schieder has claimed that Greece has the chance to rebuild its economy.

Speaking to magazine profil, Schieder warned from speculating about the costs of a Greek Eurozone exit. He said it attempt of trying to evaluate the costs of such a scenario were “not serious”. The Social Democrat said it was of great importance to “calm down the markets”. Schieder said: “The Greek economy is showing a slight upward trend for the first time in years. Clever impulses could help to create some things.”

Schieder also underlined his support for project bonds as suggested by French President Francois Hollande. The left-winger – who recently beat Nicolas Sarkozy to become the first Socialist leader of the country since Francois Mitterrand – also spoke out in favour of impulses for economic growth. Hollande said the European Union’s (EU) fiscal pact must be renegotiated to add such aspects. Pure austerity will not help the economy of Greece and other struggling EU members on their feet, according to Hollande.

Josef Ackerl, who heads the Upper Austrian department of the SPÖ, said he agreed. Ackerl suggested postponing the finalisation of the pact if it failed to feature such measures. Austrian Trade Union (ÖGB) President Erich Foglar said the EU must not become a “wage dumping union”. Foglar said EU state and government leaders had to stop “using ancient recipes” in fighting the economic downturn. He said Portugal was at risk of experiencing an increase of poverty as felt in Greece these days.

Schieder told profil it was about time to speak out in favour of Eurobonds. Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Finance Minister Maria Fekter and ÖVP chief Michael Spindelegger are strictly against the introduction of such bonds while Economy Chamber (WKO) boss Christoph Leitl signalled support. Schieder said Eurobonds were “necessary”.

Asked whether the Austrian parliament – which features the SPÖ-ÖVP coalition and three opposition parties – will approve the EU fiscal agreement for more austerity and stricter rules on member states’ budgets, Schieder said he expected the delegations to do so. “But there is no rush,” he added.

Schieder said Austria would “neither be the first nor the last country” to pass the pact. The finance secretary admitted that his party was facing immense challenges in convincing voters of its pro-EU policies. He said the SPÖ must make aware of Austria’s low unemployment rate and the stable condition of the domestic economy.

Austria had a budget deficit of 2.6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year. The government initially braced for a rate of 3.9 per cent. Export record figures and stable spending power helped the coalition to stable tax revenues. SPÖ and ÖVP passed a budget consolidation package in February to eradicate the structural budget deficit until 2017.