When the euro crisis started in Greece in October 2009, nobody had any idea how quickly or broadly it would spread — or how difficult it would be to solve. Below, some key dates in this still-unfolding saga.
October 2009 Greece revised its 2009 budget deficit to 12.5 percent of GDP from 3.7 percent. The dramatic news sparked a raft of downgrades by credit-rating agencies. By November, Greece’s budget deficit had ballooned to 15.4 percent of GDP.
February 2010 Greece is forced to put its budget under EU monitoring. Dramatic austerity measures are implemented in a bid to clean up the country’s finances in the coming years.
March 2010 The first Greek austerity package is passed: Value-added tax is raised by 2 percentage points, and salaries for civil servants are frozen. The size of annual savings is estimated to be roughly €4.8 billion ($6.8 billion).
May 2010 Euro-zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agree on an aid package for Greece worth €110 billion over three years. Officials plan to monitor Greece’s efforts to trim costs every three months.
A second austerity package is passed by the Greek parliament. Emergency measures aim to save €30 billion by 2013. Value-added tax is once again lifted by two percentage points, bringing it to 23 percent. Spending on defense, health and pensions is slashed.
May 2010 In a bid to prop up other financially ailing member states, the EU finance ministers and the IMF agree on a provisional safety net worth €750 billion to be in effect until 2013.
November 2010 Ireland asks for EU assistance. Under the safety net, the EU finance ministers agree on a bailout package with the IMF worth more than €85 billion over three years.
January 2011 The Irish parliament agrees to a drastic austerity plan.
March 2011 The European Council gives the green light to a permanent stability mechanism (ESM). Designed to take effect as of mid-2013, the fund will be worth €700 billion.
April 2011 Portugal asks the EU for financial assistance.
May 2011 The EU and the IMF sign off a bailout package for Portugal worth €78 billion. In return, Portugal pledges to enforce a program of cost-cutting measures and economic reforms.
June 2011 Greece plans a further raft of austerity and privatization measures. Meanwhile, the euro-zone countries, the ECB and the IMF argue about the structure and amount of future financial aid.