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Timeline: How did it come to this for Greece?

As the country teeters on the brink of a detail, take a look at some of the key events during Greece’s ten years in the euro…

Image: AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

GREECE MAY BE the word on everyone’s lips these days, but what has happened in the last ten years to lead up to this point where the country is on the brink of default?…

  • 1 January 2001: Greece joins the euro, becoming the 12th member of the eurozone. The then-president of the ECB warned that Greece had a lot of work to do to improve its economy and bring inflation under control.
  • 15 November 2004: When Greece’s figures are examined more closely, it’s found that the country had not met the conditions to join the eurozone. The Greek government is forced to admit that its deficit has never been below 3 percent, which is required under EU rules.
  • March 2004: The Conservative New Democracy party led by Costas Karamanlis wins the election.
  • December 2004:The European Commission issues a formal warning to Greece over the falsified data.
  • March 2005: Greece’s new government attempts imposes an austerity budget, after hosting the Olympics in Athens makes a large dent in the public finances. Trade unions launch 24-hour strikes in protest.
  • December 2005: As strikes continue, the parliament approves changes to labour laws, including an end to jobs for life in the public sector.
  • Spring 2006: A year after the austerity budget, things seem to be improving in Greece. GDP is up 4.1 per cent in the first three months of the year.
  • Spring 2007 The conservative government survives a no-confidence vote and promises to forge ahead with reforms.
  • 8 December 2009: Greece’s credit rating is downgraded to the lowest level in the eurozone, followed by heavy selling of Greek stocks and bonds.
  • 15 December 2009: Greek debt markets tumbled amid scepticism over the government’s plans to cut the budget deficit. Unions vowed to press ahead with a 24-hour strike.
  • 11 January 2010: The IMF announces that its on its way to Athens to advise Greece on its public finances.
  • 13 January 2010: The EC condemns Greece for falsifying data on public finances, and says that public debt may be even higher than previously thought.
  • 25 January 2010: Alarm over Greece’s debt crisis died down a little as investors bought €20 billion worth of government bonds, five times more than had been expected.
  • 25 February 2010: Moody’s warns that Greece’s credit rating could be cut further, despite plans for austerity measures.
  • 4 March 2010: Fears are eased once again as investors snap up €5 billion in government-issued Greek bonds.
  • 12 April 2010: Eurozone finance ministers pledge to lend €30 billion in loans to Greece in the coming year. The loans would be supplemented by money from the IMF.
  • 23 April 2010: Greek PM George Papandreou says the eurozone will be asked to activate the €30 billion rescue package.
  • 26 April 2010: Greek bond yields jump to unprecedented levels amid fears about the rescue package. German MPs call for the loan to be backed to ensure the stability of the euro. There are signs that the Greek crisis is spreading to Portugal.
  • 27 April 2010: Greece’s credit rating is downgraded to junk status.
  • 2 May 2010: A €110 billion rescue package is approved by eurozone finance ministers aimed at averting a Greek sovereign default and to prevent the crisis from spreading. Greece will pay around 5 per cent interest on the package.
  • 5 May 2010: Violent protests erupt in Athens and three people are killed. Papandreou says the austerity package will go ahead.
  • 10 May 2010: A €750 billion loan package is agreed by the Eu and the IMF, in addition to the €110 billion rescue plan. The markets rally.
  • 20 May April: A 24-hour general strike called by the country’s two largest unions goes ahead.
  • 14 June 2010: Moody’s downgrades Greece’s debt to junk status.
  • 24 June 2010: Greece bond yields rise over 10.4 per cent.
  • 5 August 2010: The EU/IMF monitoring team says that Greece will qualify for a second tranche of €9 billion from the rescue package. Experts say it will be some time before Greece can return to the international markets.
  • 19 August 2010: Oli Rehn praises the measures taken by the Greek government, but warns of possible problems ahead.
  • 1 September 2010: The IMF says that the risk of a Greek default is unlikely, based on previous experiences.
  • 15 September 2010: Greece rules out the possiblity of a default.
  • 4 October 2010: Greece unveils a draft budget for 2010 which aims to slash to deficit.
  • 12 October 2010: A successful short-term debt auction boosts confidence in Greece and for the first time the Greek bond markets see prices rices over a three month period for the first time since September 2009.
  • 14 January 2011: Fitch cuts Greek debt to ‘junk’ status.
  • February 2011: International lenders say austerity measures don’t go far enough, and that Greece must speed up reforms.
  • 23 April 2011: EC data shows that the Greek budget deficit jumped to 13.6 per cent in 2009. The figure is almost one percentage point higher than the government’s projection.
  • 16 June 2011: Oli Rehn says he has reached a deal with the IMF to avoid a Greek default, but says austerity measures must be pushed through.
  • 22 June 2011: The Greek government wins a key confidence vote, paving the way for austerity measures of €28 billion. EU finance ministers decide to withhold the next batch of Greece’s bailout payment until the measures are passed.
  • 27 June 2011: The French president Nicolas Sarkozy says that French banks are prepared to help Greece out and save the country from default.
  • 28 June 2001: A general strike and violent protests against new austerity measures brought the country to a standstill.
  • 30 June 2011: Greece passes the austerity package. Riots seize the capital Athens.
  • 4 July 2011: A deal on a second bailout is deferred over disputes on how much help the private sector should have to offer.
  • 9 July 2011: The IMF releases €3.2 billion to Greece, while a decision on the second bailout is delayed until September at the earliest.
  • 15 July 2011: The leaders of the 17 eurozone countries call a special summit in an attempt to forge a deal on a second bailout for Greece.
  • 25 July 2011: Ratings agency Moody’s downgrads Greece’s credit ratings by three notches, warning that a Greek debt default is almost inevitable.
  • 6 September 2011: Greece’s second bailout package is still in doubt as eurozone leaders fail to reach an agreement on Finland’s collateral demands.
  • 11 Septmeber 2011: The Greek PM vows to press on with austerity measures ans protesters clashed on the streets of Thessaloniki
  • 14 September 2011: The credit rating agency Moody’s downgrades two French banks over fears of their potential exposure to Greek debt.
  • 15 September 2011: The French and German leaders move to quash fears that Greece could be forced out of the eurozone over the debt crisis.
  • 16 September 2011: A Reuters poll of 50 economists predicts that Greece will default, but stay in the euro. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither warns European leaders against infighting over Greece.

Explainer: If Greece goes bust, who gets crushed?

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Emer McLysaght

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