Non Eurozone EU member state supports Greek financial package

Danish Institute for International Studies

Katrine Prytz Larsen

In Denmark, the financial package for Greece was generally perceived to be a positive act: in the government’s view, it was necessary to help Greece. Greece’s potential withdrawal from the Euro is perceived as an existential threat to the Euro itself. The “Greek tragedy” is seen as a product of decades of neglect, corruption and unwillingness to reform the economy.[1] According to the financial newspaper Børsen, Denmark faces small problems compared to other European member states such as Greece and Spain. Foreign Minister Lene Espersen underscored Denmark’s strong international position, but at the same time pointed to the need for a stronger Europe. She called for a modernisation of the single market and the creation of new e-trade solutions requiring strong coordination on both the EU and national levels.[2]
 
The Greek crisis triggered a debate about Denmark’s position as a non-Euro country, giving rise to arguments from the governing parties that Denmark, for the time being, should keep its opt-out regarding the Economic and Monetary Union. EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, however, highlighted the possibility that the economic and financial crisis might result in a divided Europe with the Euro countries and the non-Euro countries moving at two different economic speeds. Denmark, as a non-Euro country, thus might risk being left out of future discussions about European financial and economic regulation.[3]
 
Priorities for the Europe 2020 Strategy
 
The government held a positive view towards the Europe 2020 Strategy. Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen stressed the need to focus on a different kind of crisis management by phasing out national aid packages and avoiding state aid.[4] Also EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard and the Danish Chamber of Commerce voiced their optimism towards the Strategy.[5]
 

The financial and economic crisis was seen as a special chance to change the position of Europe globally through the creation of European economic growth. Reform, innovation and research were often mentioned as key components on which the Europe 2020 Strategy should focus. They were perceived as necessary to secure the future success of Europe as well as its influence on the global arena. Both the leader of the opposition party the Danish Social-Liberal Party, Margrethe Vestager, and the Danish Consumer Council highlighted the need for reform as an important tool to create economic growth as well as a greater focus on research and innovation in Europe.[6] Sofie Carsten Nielsen and Member of Parliament (MP) Lone Dybkjær of the Danish Social-Liberal Party called for a greater role for the Commission and said the Europe 2020 Strategy should be linked more closely to the EU budget to create a carrot-and-stick mechanism. Among the opposition parties, the debate was thus focused on expanded economic control and reform as the European way forward. Four Members of European Parliament (MEPs) representing the Social Democrats, the Socialist People’s Party, the Conservatives, and Venstre, in line with Jesper Jespersen of the Roskilde University supported the idea of a European Monetary Fund. Hans Skov Christensen, head of the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri – DI) conceived the crisis as a serious threat to Europe’s role in the world economy and to Denmark as a country. He said the European Council would have to send a clear message to the Commission that it has to continue promoting reforms.[7] DI generally expressed its concern with problems existing within the EU, which challenge Europe’s role in the world economy. DI thus put the increase of European productivity, initiatives to create growth and enhance competitiveness, and labour market reforms to match the demographic development as top priorities for the future EU strategy.[8] Furthermore, MEP Dan Jørgensen commented that the Europe 2020 Strategy lacks a focus on unemployment, climate change, and the opportunity to create green jobs.[9] The financial newspaper Børsen also voiced its critique of the EU’s financial policy saying that the EU is not well enough coordinated when it comes to economic policy. Thus, the stronger economies in Europe are not obliged to secure growth in the EU by conducting expansive financial policies.[10]


[1] Berlingske Tidende: Den græske tragedie version 2.0, 9 February 2010.

[2] Berlingske Tidende: I front for dansk vækst, 15 April 2010; Erhvervsbladet: Det handler om, hvad Danmark skal leve af i fremtiden, 19 March 2010; Børsen: Nødvendig hjælp til Grækenland, 13 April 2010.

[3] Politiken: Connie Hedegaard advarer: Nu kører eurotoget, 10 May 2010, available at: http://politiken.dk/politik/article967472.ece (last access: 17 May 2010).

[4] Statsministeriet: Statsminister Lars Løkke Rasmussens tale på VL-Døgn 2010, 9 February 2010.

[5] Kristeligt Dagblad: EU-vækstplan skal reducere antallet af fattige, 4 March 2010; Dansk Erhverv: Ny EU-strategi skal bringe os ud af krisen, 11 December 2009, available at: http://www.danskerhverv.dk/Nyheder/Sider/Ny-EU-strategi-skal-bringe-os-u... (last access: 1 April 2010).

[6] Politiken: EU’s ledere skal også multitaske, 26 March 2010, available at: http://blog.politiken.dk/vestager/2010/03/26/eus-ledere-skal-ogsa-multit... (last access: 18 May 2010).

[7] Børsen: EU: Hans Skov Christensen: Det er sidste udkald for Europa, 26 March 2010.

[8] Dansk Industri: Europa skal have fokus på konkurrenceevne og reformer, 26 March 2010; DI Indsigt: Europa taber terræn til USA og Kina, 30 March 2010.

[9] Altinget.dk: Dan J.: Forkert fokus i 2020-strategi, 31 March 2010, available at: http://www.altinget.dk/artikel.aspx?id=112482 (last access: 1 May 2010).

[10] Børsen: Nødvendig hjælp til Grækenland, 13 April 2010.

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