Europe: The Reality of Austerity
• The government stops awarding €2,500 “baby checks” for each child born to legal residents.
• Spanish civil servants’ workweek is increased to 37.5 hours from 35 hours.
• The budget for Spanish state television is cut by €200 million.
• Dublin ends the “Christmas bonus,” an extra week of welfare paid to recipients during the holidays.
• A €100 property tax is introduced in Ireland and is set to rise in coming years.
• Gasoline prices are about to touch $10 a gallon, the highest in the euro region, after the government raised tariffs and increased value added taxes on the fuel.
• Leisure travel abroad by Bulgarians fell almost 90 percent in January, compared with the same month a year ago, as the government froze salaries and companies laid off workers.
• The number of university students financed by the state is cut, with scholarships for law and economics students reduced by as much as 80 percent compared with last year.
• Hungary allows local governments to charge fees at public day-care centers for babies and toddlers.
• Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, the sparkling light show that illuminates the Eiffel Tower every hour after dark has been cut from 10 minutes to five minutes.
• For every two civil servants who retire, the government is replacing only one. This is triggering massive protests from public school teachers.
• Car sales may drop 18.5 percent this year from 2011.
• About 10 building companies in Portugal file for bankruptcy every day.
• The owners of five million homes and stores in Greece paid a special tax starting last year to make up for a shortfall in tax collections.
• The Greek government increased the sales tax on restaurants and cafes 10 percentage points to 23 percent.