The sovereign debt crisis in Greece represents a very interesting case in which the Greek government succeeded in transforming domestic fiscal deficit problem, overspending and fear of free market reforms into a European challenge consistent with justifiable concerns about the sustainability of the euro-project and its likely future. In this paper, the roots of the crisis and the way of addressing it are discussed. In particular the features, drawbacks, missed opportunities and pitfalls of the €110 billion EU/IMF rescue package granted to Greece are examined. It is argued that the government’s focus on taxation rather than on politically costly privatization and cutbacks in the public sector undermined economic activity in the country, decreased the government’s revenue, and spawned disincentives for investment, without generating growth and without improving competitiveness. In brief, rather than contributing to economic recovery, the opposite was achieved as a result of the measures implemented by the government.
In the otherwise rich debate on the eastward expansion of the Eurozone, fragmented approaches prevail, leaving several conceptual avenues of this process underexplored. The case of Poland — initially a fervent enthusiast of the euro adoption and a somewhat assertive endorser today — offers in this context an opportunity to add to the debate and deepen our understanding of the logic behind eastward expansion of the Eurozone. In what follows, Poland's prospective Eurozone entry is examined from the broader angle of the historically determined conceptual and policy-making context of systemic transition. To this end, a conceptual nexus between Eurozone expansion and transition is established and examined through the historical institutionalist perspective. It is argued that rather than being solely a function of Poland's EU membership, both the decision to adopt the euro and the attainment of real and nominal convergence are predominantly a function of the, as yet unfinished, transition process. Interestingly, as this paper suggests, the inconsistency inherent in the execution of the Maastricht convergence criteria not only creates disincentives that effectively delay Poland's Eurozone entry but also triggers reform-drift and backsliding, thus casting a shadow on the prospect of the completion of the Polish transition and its sustainability.