Wednesday

26th Jun 2019

EU: No flexibility until Greek government in place

  • The Greek bail-out drama goes on (Photo: wikipedia)

German and EU officials said on Monday (18 June) that there can be no softer deadlines on the Greek bail-out programme until a new government is in place.

Meanwhile, the Greek election outcome has done little to alleviate Spain's woes - the eurozone's bigger worry.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The narrow victory of the pro-bail-out New Democracy party in Greece and the likelihood it can form a coalition government with its former Social-Democrat (Pasok) rival is "good news for the euro, for the eurozone and for Europe," German government spokesman Georg Streiter said on Monday in Berlin.

He backtracked on statements made on Sunday by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who said that some extension of deadlines in the Greek programme could be envisaged.

"It's decisive now for the troika to be convinced that Greece will stick to its agreements and fully implement the agreed reforms. Now is not the time for any kind of discounts to Greece," Streiter said.

Westerwelle, who comes from a different party than Merkel, spoke again on Monday on German public radio, saying that his earlier remarks referred only to the "time lost" through election campaigning.

"We are willing to talk about the time frame, since you can't ignore the weeks that have been lost, and we also don't want the people to suffer who now have a very harsh life through many reforms being neglected in the past," he said.

But the finance ministry - a domain of Merkel's party - said through a spokeswoman that an upcoming €31.3 billion bail-out payment would only be disbursed when a stable government is in place and when the "troika" of international lenders finds that the reforms are on track.

EU officials privately acknowledge that even though the Greek programme may see some flexibility on one or two measures, the very precondition for any negotiation with the troika is for a government with strong parliamentary support to be in place in Athens.

EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council chairman, Herman Van Rompuy on Sunday night also said in a joint statement that: "We are hopeful that the election results will allow a government to be formed quickly."

The message seems to have reached New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who on Monday kicked off coalition talks, saying it is "imperative" to form a coalition by the end of the day.

The Conservative leader, who last year dragged his heels on talks on the second bail-out and only reluctantly signed up to the attached reform programme, also said there should be amendments to the conditions of the EU-IMF bail-out deal "so the Greek people can escape from today's torturous reality."

A frail government under constant pressure from a strong anti-bail-out opposition led by 37-year old Alexis Tsipras, whose Syriza party came second in the elections, is likely to emerge from the talks, continuing the uncertainty about Greece's future in the eurozone, Fitch ratings agency warned on Monday.

While the immediate risk of a Greek exit has been averted, the agency said that "the crisis in Greece and the eurozone remains intense."

With worsening recession, tough budget cuts and massive outflows of capital from Greece, Fitch estimates that further funds may be needed for the struggling country.

It also called on EU leaders to come up with a "credible road map that would complete monetary union with much greater fiscal and financial integration" so as to alleviate market pressure on other euro-countries, a reference to Spain, where borrowing costs remained above seven percent on Monday - a threshold considered to be bail-out territory.

International spotlight on Greek elections

Europe is in wait-and-see mode as Greeks head to the ballot boxes for a vote that is set to determine the future of their country in the eurozone.

EU top court backs Canada trade deal in ruling

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that the EU-Canada free trade agreement, and its controversial dispute settlement mechanism, is in line with the bloc's rules.

News in Brief

  1. EU warns Turkey as 'Gezi Park' trials begin
  2. EU universities to share students, curricula
  3. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  4. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  5. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  6. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  7. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  8. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  2. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  3. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  4. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  5. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  6. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  7. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  8. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us