Title page for ETD etd-09202011-160932

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Taylor, Sara
Author's Email Address sarajane@vt.edu
URN etd-09202011-160932
Title Financial Crisis in the European Union: The Cases of Greece and Ireland
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Nelson, Scott C. Committee Chair
Hult, Karen M. Committee Member
Milly, Deborah J. Committee Member
Date of Defense 2011-09-07
Availability unrestricted
The 2008 eurozone financial crisis has only worsened as of summer 2011 raising questions about the economic future of the eurozone and sending shock waves through economies around the world. Greece was the first state to receive a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, surprisingly followed only six months later by Ireland. The goal of this thesis is to analyze the challenges posed to smaller, weaker economies within the eurozone, specifically Greece and Ireland, since the recent eurozone financial crisis. This study is based on the experiences of both Greece and Ireland as very different members of the single currency. How and why did these states meet the criteria for euro convergence? To what extent was there support for the euro in both countries in the past? To what extent is there support today after the near collapse of both economies and the rescue packages brought about by the EU?

As a result of the recent financial crisis, Greece and Ireland are facing difficulties with the terms of European economic and monetary union. Since these smaller economies are, among other reasons, unable to devalue the currency in order to regain economic competitiveness as members of the single currency, they are recognizing that the eurozone’s economic structure may not adequately address their national economic vulnerabilities during times of crisis. Because of this and the worsening economic conditions in both Greece and Ireland in 2011, I hypothesize that these states are “fraying” the edges of the eurozone, or increasingly degrading the eurozone’s specific economic relationships, and demonstrating this through a growing skepticism of the economic benefits to smaller, weaker economies as members of the eurozone. Additionally, citizens of both states are indicating this skepticism by increasingly separating from the parties and policies that support eurozone membership in their states, as demonstrated by the political shifts in each state since the crisis began. In order to study the phenomenon of “fraying” and address the question of the challenges posed to the smaller, weaker economies and their incorporation into the eurozone, I analyze the effects of the debt crisis in Greece and Ireland in terms of the EU/IMF bailouts, the austerity measures each state took in response to the crisis, and the resulting national political changes. I found that neither Greek nor Irish citizens were unequivocally growing skeptical of their membership in the single currency. In fact, citizens in both states still support the idea of the euro. However, there did appear to be a certain element of dislocation of support between these two states and the eurozone in the aversion each has to the terms of their bailouts.

The empirical work to study this question includes secondary scholarly reading, national and supranational monetary and political policy analysis, and analysis of national and supranational economic indicators. The three main topics analyzed in this study are the EU/IMF bailouts, the austerity measures taken in each state due to the crisis, and what may be the resulting national political changes. The effects of the three key issue areas discussed in this thesis are studied in both Greece and Ireland.

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