European Union officials don't believe Greece austerity measures adopted so far will be sufficient -- and they're demanding additional cuts equivalent to 5.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2013 and 2014, according to a report obtained by Reuters.
The European Commission's Compliance Report outlined the progress Greece needs to make to receive a second bailout worth 130 billion euros ($169 billion) and recommended the first tranche be made available as soon as possible. The money would keep Greece funded through 2014 while government officials look for spending cuts in areas including social transfers, defense and the restructuring of central and local administration.
Although Greece is expected to meet its fiscal target for 2012, the report said, current projections reveal large fiscal gaps in 2013-14. Greece is expected to update its medium-term budget in May, the report noted.
Greece's economy shrank 7 percent in the final quarter of 2011, compared to the same quarter in the previous year. In December 2011, overall unemployment jumped to 21 percent while youth unemployment surged to 51.1 percent.
Greece will hold parliamentary elections in April amid acutely slim job prospects for younger, career-minded professionals, who are increasingly looking abroad for work.
My initial plan was to spend some years abroad and return back to Greece, Leonidas Karakatsanis, 39, who received his Ph.D. in political science last year from the University of Essex in England and has a research fellowship at Panteion University in Athens, told Bloomberg News. Now it seems like it's impossible to return to Greece. I'm starting to imagine myself living abroad for the next 15 to 20 years.
Nancy Athanasopoulou, 20, a law student, told Bloomberg that only three students in her Swedish language class of 20 plan to stay in Greece. Athanasopoulou said she's taking Swedish lessons with the hope of living and working in Sweden.
Greece's grim economic realities have led some youths to express their frustration through protests, which have become frequent occurrences ever since Greece's era of austerity began. The new austerity comes after two years of spending cuts and tax hikes.
Public sector employees, among other grievances, have taken to the streets to protest cuts in their compensation; and earlier this February, 100,000 protesters marched to the Greek parliament to protest against the austerity measures. The event, at times violent, ended with 50 police officers injured and more than 70 protesters hospitalized, the Associated Press reported.
Although Greek politicians have been able to muster enough support to meet the EU-imposed austerity measures despite numerous protests from its citizens, some experts, however, worry about how long Greece can stick to its austerity plan.
Eventually, a Greek politician will say, 'Vote for me, and I'll get us out of this system,' said Hugh Hendry, a Scottish hedge fund manager, in a recent Barron's interview.