Europe is in the grip of tough austerity measures - some of the deepest public sector cuts for a generation.
The colossal debts and rock-bottom growthof eurozone "periphery" nations - especially Greece and Italy - have hammered market confidence. The interest rates (yields) on their sovereign bonds have soared, making it hard or even impossible for them to borrow in international markets.
The fear now is that it may be impossible to cut Greece's debt mountain - about 340bn euros (£297bn; $478bn) - to manageable proportions without some sort of default.
Greece, Ireland and Portugal have all received massive bailouts from the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The 27 EU member states aim to cut deficits to a maximum of 3% of GDP by the financial year 2014-15, so what belt-tightening measures are the countries taking?