Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (R) speaks with the President of the European Parliament Jose Manuel Barroso during the take over ceremony of the six-month rotation of the Greek EU Presidency at Zappeion Hall in Athens on January 8, 2014. - 

Today, Greece takes over the presidency of the European Union for the next 6 months. Greek authorities have imposed an 18 hour ban on protests amid plans for demonstrations against the EU from groups angry over the austerity policies that followed the country's debt crisis.

"Being the first ones that were burned by [the financial] crisis, we've been like the canary in the coalmine," says economist Elena Panaritis, a former member of the Greek Parliament. "We have lots to teach, if you wish. Right now, the euro crisis is touching France, Poland, even Austria -- so I think Greece is going to play a very important role in that sense."

To hear the entire interview with Elena Panaritis, click the audio player above.

Follow David Brancaccio at @DavidBrancaccio