European Debt Crisis Fast Facts

December 23, 2011 – After a series of credit downgrades and exposure to the financial crisis in Greece, Cyprus signs an agreement with Russia for an emergency loan worth €2.5 billion to shore up its economy. Cyprus agrees to pay the loan back over 4.5 years with a 4.5% interest rate.

June 25, 2012 – The government of Cyprus announces that it will seek a bailout from the EU and the IMF to prop up its banks. According to the International Monetary Fund, banks in Cyprus have approximately €152 billion in outstanding loans or other money at risk, which is eight times the country’s gross domestic product.

January 21, 2013 – Eurozone finance minister tell the government of Cyprus that a bailout will be delayed over concerns that the bailout of €17 billion is too large. The amount is almost equivalent to the country’s annual gross domestic product.

February 24, 2013 – Conservative Nicos Anastasiades is elected president by a double-digit margin.

March 16, 2013 – Cyprus reaches an agreement on a bailout with eurozone finance ministers, the IMF and the European Central Bank. The terms include a one-time tax of 9.9% on bank deposits of more than €100,000. Smaller deposits would pay a tax of 6.75%. This “haircut” reduces the total amount of the EU bailout to approximately €10 billion. Cyprus also agrees to raise its corporate tax rate and ensure its banks aren’t havens for money laundering.

March 19, 2013 – Cyprus’ Parliament rejects the EU bailout, after protests from the public.

March 19, 2013 – The U.K. flies a plane with €1 million aboard to provide cash for 3,000 British soldiers stationed on Cyprus.

March 20, 2013 – Cyprus’ finance minister, Michael Sarris holds talks with top Russian officials.

March 20, 2013 – Cyprus’ cabinet holds emergency talks to work out a new deal with either Russia or the EU. The government orders banks that have been closed since March 16, to remain closed.

March 25, 2013 – Cyprus reaches a deal with the EU for a €10 billion bailout. The terms include: closure of the country’s second biggest bank, Popular Bank of Cyprus; an increase of tax rates on capital gains and businesses; privatization of state assets; and reduction of the size of the banking industry by 2018. Approximately 10,000 people may lose their jobs.

March 25, 2013 – Cyprus’ Ministry of Finance announces that banks will remain closed until March 28th, to guard against people rushing to withdraw their money.

March 28, 2013 – Banks reopen.

April 30, 2013 – The parliament votes to approves the EU bailout.

January 1, 2001 –
Greece drops its currency, the drachma, to join the European Union “eurozone.” Greece is the 12th country to adopt the currency. In order to meet the EU’s standards, Greece makes deep cuts in public spending.

2004 – Greece spends approximately $11 billion dollars (U.S.) on the Summer Olympics in Athens.

November 15, 2004 – Greece admits that it gave misleading information to gain admittance to the eurozone. One of the EU’s requirements for eurozone member countries is deficits below 3% of GDP. Greece has not met those criteria since 1999.

March 29, 2005 – The government hikes taxes on alcohol and tobacco to raise funds.

June 2005 – Unions call for strikes in response to Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis’s plan to cut pensions and raise the retirement age.

January-March 2006 – Greece shows signs of improvement with 4% growth in the GDP.

October 4, 2009 – George Papandreou wins election as prime minister.

June 2011 – The conservative Social Democratic Party forms a coalition government with the Popular Party. Pedro Passos Coelho becomes the new prime minister.

May 4, 2014 – Portugal announces it is exiting the bailout program.

January 2009 –
Spain enters its first recession in 15 years.

January 29, 2010 – The government announces a plan to cut government spending and save €50 billion.

January 29, 2010 – Spain announces that its budget deficit in 2009 was 11.4% of GDP.

February 3, 2010 – Spain forecasts that its budget deficit in 2010 will be 9.8%.

February 5, 2010 – Large protests erupt when the government announces plans to raise the retirement age.

May 27, 2010 – The government wins approval of its €15 billion austerity plan. The plan includes cutting public employees’ wages and cutting welfare benefits.

June 8, 2010 – Spanish unions protest the austerity plan with a one-day strike.

September 2010 – Parliament passes a law that makes it easier for companies to fire workers.

September 2010 – General strike called by unions to oppose the spending cuts.

January 2011 – The government and unions reach an agreement over pension reform. The retirement age is raised from 65 to 67.

May 5, 2011 – Young people protest unemployment in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. The unemployment rate among young people has reached 50% in some areas.

June 2011 – The European Banking authority carries out “stress tests” on Spanish banks. Five fail the test and seven others barely pass.

August 12, 2011 – The European Securities and Markets Authority imposes a ban on short selling stock in Spain for 15 days.

November 20, 2011 – Spanish voters oust the Socialist Party in favor of the conservative Popular Party lead by Mariano Rajoy.

April 30, 2012 – Spain’s government announces that the country has entered its second recession since 2009.

June 2012 – Spain asks the European Union for up to $125 billion to provide a capital buffer for the nation’s ailing banks.

January 23, 2014 – Spain exits the bailout program.