Crisis In Greece Puts E.U. At Risk

Greece's debt woes aren't all that's plaguing the European economy. Spain and Portugal have also seen downgrades in their credit ratings, and the response by the European Union to the crisis is being watched around the world. Host Scott Simon speaks with Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, about the financial crisis in Europe.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Greece's debt problems aren't all that's plaguing the European economy. Spain and Portugal have also seen downgrades in their credit ratings, and the response by the European Union to that crisis is being watched around the world.

We're joined now by Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament. He's at the European Union's delegation to the United Nations office in New York. President Buzek, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. JERZY BUZEK (President, European Parliament): Thank you for the invitation for this interview.

SIMON: You going to bail out Greece?

Mr. BUZEK: Yes. It will be a response as usual in the European Union. Solidarity is our main slogan in the European Union for last six years. And I'm confident that the decision will be taken during next days.

SIMON: I've read some opinion this week that suggests this was exactly what some people worried about with the euro, that thered economic problems in one, two or three countries and you couldn't contain them because, of course, you had a common currency. And now you have Greece's problems dragging in the rest of the eurozone. How do you address that concern?

Mr. BUZEK: First of all, we must say that we're at the beginning of the process of organizing our eurozone. It's less than 10 years yet, so it's not so easy. On the other hand, we have very deep crisis all over the world. So, it's nothing unusual is that also some countries from the eurozone are affected by the crisis. And I'm quite sure we can manage.

SIMON: But do you also, for example, in this case have countries with very different approaches to debt and spending? Say, between Greece and Germany.

Mr. BUZEK: Yeah, it's also obvious because we are saying in the European Union that we, of course, base our community on solidarity. But responsibility every separate member state is also very important.

SIMON: May I ask, Mr. President, did the member states of the eurozone do a good enough job in checking out the Greek economy before they joined in 2002?

Mr. BUZEK: It must be checked maybe once again by the European Commission. I wouldn't like to say anything about that being representative of European Parliament because it was not our responsibility. It will be not our responsibility in the future as well. But of course, as members of European Parliament, we are very, very interested in everything what is connected with the recovery from crisis, exit programs, and also about Greek's crisis.

SIMON: So assuming a bailout for Greece, you think that that will have the effect of improving other particularly plagued economies in, let's say, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, and that means they would be less likely to have to ever request a bailout?

Mr. BUZEK: I'm optimistic because if we solve, and I'm sure we will solve the problem of Greece, it will be much easier in other countries. I know very well. I talked to Mr. Prime Minister Papandreou a few weeks ago and they prepared a very tough, difficult program for Greece. It will be not easy, but if you start working, it would be great progress in Greece economy and then will be no danger for the whole eurozone.

SIMON: Jerzy Buzek, who's president of the European Parliament, joining us from New York. Mr. President, thanks so much.

Mr. BUZEK: Thank you much.

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