Wednesday

27th Jul 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: consilium.europa.eu)

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.

EU to tweak rules on Chinese 'dumping'

The EU Commission has tried to fudge the issue of whether China is a “market economy” amid efforts to protect European industry from cheap exports.

Court ruling puts Renzi bank plan in doubt

EU court ruling on bank bailouts has raised the likelihood of a political embarrassment for Renzi, months before a referendum puts his future and, potentially, Italy’s euro future on the line.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels