20 years ago nobody imagined in Greece the problems that the euro would bring

Euro banknotes in a stock image. EFE / Cristóbal García

Athens, Dec 30 (EFE) .- When on January 1, 2002 the euro began to circulate in Greece, no one could imagine the problems that the country would end up having with the new currency, the news about falsified data or the threat of grexit.
The images of the moment show the then Greek Prime Minister, Kostas Simitis, enthusiastically withdrawing his first euros from an ATM.
Despite having the drachma in their hands for 169 years, the public joined in the enthusiasm, aware that the new currency would bring many facilities to a country that lives predominantly from tourism.
This positive opinion would fluctuate over the years, as in many other countries, especially in times of inflation.
In 2009 everything started to fall apart. The new Greek Finance Minister, Yorgos Papakonstantinu, attends his first Eurogroup in October and reports that the Greek deficit for that year will not be 6% of GDP as the previous government of Konstantinos Karamanlís had announced to Brussels just 17 days earlier. , but 12.5% ​​of GDP, or more than double.
Greece had been falsifying its statistics since 2000, with the aim of meeting the required convergence criteria (one of which was the deficit) and thus not being left out of the select club of euro member countries.
Panic breaks out among European countries and institutions and international stock markets begin to shake.
Six months later the new prime minister, Yorgos Papandréu, announces the entry of Greece into the first financial rescue program, with severe cuts at all levels. Two more bailouts would follow, each signed by a new prime minister.
According to Eurostat data, the average disposable income of a Greek worker fell by more than 40% during the period between 2009 and 2014.
In the midst of the debate on the exit from the euro and the pulse with the creditors of the new leftist government led by Alexis Tsipras, more than 60% of Greeks speak out in a referendum against the signing of a third bailout. Tsipras, however, ends up folding and signing it, which in the medium term he too would end up paying at the polls.
Although the Greeks were against the bailout, they were not in favor of abandoning the European currency, and in a poll conducted in that tumultuous summer of 2015, three-quarters of the population spoke in favor of keeping the euro.


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