Since the onset of the financial crisis, European countries have attempted to deal with their economic malaise by implementing austerity packages, slashing government spending and laying off public workers. However, such measures have proved self-defeating, as the austerity measures blunted economic growth and caused Europe’s debt to actually grow:
The eurozone failed to reduce its government debt in the third quarter of last year, as meager growth offset efforts by several of the bloc’s 17 nations to improve their finances by cutting spending and raising taxes, according to official data released Wednesday.
The countries’ total government debt relative to their annual economic output was barely changed at 90 percent of gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2012 compared with 89.9 percent for three months earlier, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat reported. It was up from 86.8 percent of GDP a year earlier.
Austerity has also, among other things, pushed Eurozone unemployment to a record high and threatened Great Britain with a triple-dip recession. Both the International Monetary Fund and the International Labor Organization have warned against further fiscal consolidation, saying that it would quash economic growth even more, thereby doing nothing to reduce debt loads. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research found that European debt loads will be higher, not lower, because of austerity.
But European officials show no signs of slowing down, as the top EU economic official recently doubled down on austerity. “Any lapse into complacency would be unforgivable. We need to stay the reform course to revitalise the European economy,” he said.