22 Jun 2012

Greece vs Germany – the team talk

Mixing sport and business, Channel 4 News brings you the team talk that all Europe is fixated on, as Germany line up against Greece.

Our words of advice for the managers of their economic teams come from Greek Dr Michael G Arghyrou – senior lecturer in economics at Cardiff Business School – and German Christian Ulbrich – a chief executive at one of the world’s largest property consultancies Jones Lang LaSalle.

It’s true, there are significant problems – Greece needs structural reform, there is low competitiveness and we spent too much money. We should raise our game. We need to improve the standing of our defence and sort our economy out.

Germans think that Germany should be very clear to the remainder of Europe that austerity should be absolutely key (to Greece’s economic recovery). The German public sector is huge and it is vital that structural changes are achieved.

I have some ambiguity with regards to the German policy. I understand why they’re upset. The current situation is unacceptable. They’re being asked to pay out all this money with no strings attached, but do they intend to keep Greece in the euro or not?

The political leadership will always make sure it maintains its close ties with France. There is an enormous readiness for compromise in order to maintain the friendship with France and to develop it further – irrespective of noises being made from the new French government.

So far, I would say we don’t have a striker – the necessity of of what’s happening hasn’t been communicated to the Greek people. They think foreign countries are unreasonably asking us to do things we shouldn’t do. We have not communicated clearly that these things are important, and we need someone to run the message home that things are important for Greece. We need punch in the front line.

Germans feel they have already paid a significant amount for the European dream. We are already beyond the limits of what Germany should have to pay. Due to our history we feel a huge responsibility to the European idea.

Greece is projected to the outside world as a country that has overspent and benefited from the bailout, and now the ungrateful Greeks want more. We have to improve our public opinion abroad. We have to make our team more lovable to the neutral crowd, especially if it’s a small pitch.

There is a saying in Germany: “You cannot grab into the pocket of a naked man.” If there is no more life in the economy then Chancellor Merkel will give them a bit more time – but only if it is clear that Greece is enacting the required structural reforms.

We have to involve the European institutions – it shouldn’t be a battle between Greece and Germany. Solutions have to be from a European perspective, and have to be with the other countries involved.

The German people would definitely object against eurobonds. Angela Merkel has to be very careful when getting near eurobonds. The impact of eurobonds will be that interest rates shoot up. From an election point of view it would be suicide.