National stereotyping - the eurozone's other story

EUobserver, 22.02.2012

Link to original article


"I cannot downplay the shock that the Greek debt-crisis has caused with my Finnish electorate that believes in fair play and following the rules." So said Finnish Europe Minister Alexander Stubb recently.

He went on: "The EU rarely provokes an emotional reaction among Finns - this time is different. For us this is not really about money, but principles." As Stubb tells it, it was simply an anathema to Finns that Greece massaged its books in order to qualify for entering the single currency - an act that eventually led to the eurozone's current crisis.

His comments, made to a student audience in Bruges, were a personal assessment of a Finnish view of the world. They are very much at the benign end of a narrative that has run the course of the eurozone crisis. […]

Janis Emmanouilidis, an economist at the European Policy Centre, reckons the north south narrative is the wrong way of looking at the crisis.

A Greek-German, and in that sense well-placed to watch the two countries displaying some of the most bitter rhetoric during the eurozone debate, Emmanouilidis suggests that it is more about who feels immune from the crisis and who does not.

'Northern' in the context of the eurozone crisis has not only referred to geographic location but also whether a country is viewed well by the markets - something Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg can all claim.

"Look at the Austrian example," says Emmanouilidis, "you would probably say they are part of the north. When they lost their triple-A [credit rating] and when they came under strong pressure because of their banks' exposure to central and eastern Europe, then suddenly there was more understanding for the situation in Greece." […]

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