23rd Oct 2016

Barroso to visit Greece as turmoil continues

  • Jose Manuel Barroso has spoken a lot about Greece in recent times but not visited since 2009 (Photo:

European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Greece Thursday in his first trip to the country since the outbreak of the financial crisis.

President Barroso will meet Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to "discuss the overall situation in Europe and obviously particularly focusing on Greece," a commission spokesperson said Tuesday (24 July).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The spokesperson played down the significance of the meeting by saying it was part of "regular contacts" between the commission president and EU leaders.

But the economic and political context make the meeting anything but regular.

Barroso last went to the country in June 2009, almost a year before Greece became the first eurozone state to be bailed out.

In the three years since, Greece has received two EU-IMF bailouts, seen its GDP plunge and its unemployment rate shoot up. There have been three general elections, social unrest, and continued speculation about the viability of its eurozone membership.

With the reform programme in return for bailout money well off track, EU commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund inspectors are once more in the country examining the books.

Greece says it will need a further two years to meet its commitments. This is could cost its creditors another €50bn.

But it is seen as politically almost impossible to go back to national parliaments to ask for a third bailout for Athens. Meanwhile the IMF did not outright deny a recent report in German media that it is considering stopping more funds going to the country.

A political decision on whether to allow Athens more time to make the reforms is expected to be taken in September. It will be based on the findings of the 'troika' experts. A report in the Rheinische Post, a regional German newspaper, says that the experts believe that around 210 of the 300 savings commitments have not been carried out.

Being seen

Aside from the feverish economic context - made worse by weekend comments by a prominent German politician that a Greece eurozone exit had "lost its horror" - there is also the political context of high-ranking EU politicians letting their faces been seen.

While Barroso is making his first visit in three years, EU council president Herman Van Rompuy was last there in April 2011 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who has shaped the eurozone's answer to the crisis - has not been in Greece at all since its financial problems started. Her last visit was in 2007.

EU parliament chief Martin Schulz, by contrast, has travelled there twice. After his first visit in February this year, the social democrat and German noted that he found himself in the odd position of having to defend Germany and his political opposite Chancellor Merkel during a heated discussion in the Greek parliament.


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity