Germany hopes to help Greece with business
German Economy Minister Philipp Rösler is heading to Athens amid speculation that Greece might end up insolvent despite eurozone bailouts. His aim is to foster business ties to help rescue the ‘real’ Greek economy.
Philipp Rösler is one of the few German cabinet ministers who has espoused concrete steps to reinvigorate Greece’s real economy. But the economy minister and deputy chancellor sprang to public attention in September by suggesting an “orderly bankruptcy” for Greece.
Rösler, who leads the junior party in Germany’s governing coalition, the pro-business liberal Free Democrats (FDP), also asked his ministry to prepare cornerstone criteria for a hypothetical state insolvency.
Friend or adversary?
Rösler’s aims are modest
Rösler argues that providing more credit to a stricken country is one thing, but if Greek industry fails to boost its productivity and competitiveness then the impact of the bailouts will evaporate, turning Greece into a bottomless pit.
That’s why Rösler will be traveling to Greece with some 50 executives from German companies. The aim, he said, “is to act as a door-opener, so that personal contacts are made.”
Climate for investment lax
The idea came from German industry itself. Industrialists who have already invested in Greece, or had intended to do so, have often been disappointed. The bureaucratic hurdles to setting up an enterprise in the country are high, they say, and the Greek administration is less than effective or transparent. Its justice system is too slow and corruption is not unknown.