PARIS (AFP) – A Greek exit from the eurozone would certainly come at a cost to Europe, but just how expensive would it be?
The amount Athens owes its partners is equivalent to just a tiny fraction of the eurozone’s economy, but some analysts are still worried that a ‘Grexit’ could ultimately cost Europe its single currency.
Global markets plunged at the beginning of last week, seized by a fresh bout of fears that Greece may be forced to leave the euro.
A snap election in Greece on January 25 could bring to power the far-left Syriza party, which wants to abandon the austerity policy imposed by the EU and IMF as part of the country’s 240-billion-euro ($282 billion) international bailout.
The market selloff was triggered by media reports indicating that if a new government in Athens reversed course, Germany was ready to let Greece leave the European club of common currency users.
Most analysts doubt it would come to that, but if it did Athens would be hard pressed to repay its bailout loans and would likely default.
“A Greek default on its around 240 billion euros in rescue loans would send another shock wave to the (euro) area,” said Guy Verhofstadt, president of the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament.
Germany stands to lose the most if Greece fails to pay up: some 56.5 billion euros according to calculations by Eric Dor, director of economics research at France’s IESEG School of Management, based on EU data. That works out to 699 euros per resident.
For France the total cost comes to over 42.4 billion euros, or 644 euros per resident.
For Italy the cost would be 37.3 billion euros, Spain 24.8 billion, the Netherlands 11.9 billion, Belgium 7.2 billion, Austria 5.8 billion, Portugal 1.1 billion and Ireland 300 million.
While the headline numbers are huge, they are minuscule in comparison to the eurozone economy. The 195 billion euros that Greece owes its partners is equivalent to just four percent of 2013 eurozone government spending. Moreover, the loans were scheduled to be repaid over many years.