Friday

22nd Nov 2019

Juncker: Greek euro exit would be 'manageable'

  • Juncker: works 17 hours of 24 and spends another two of them reading poetry (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Jean-Claude Juncker, the chairman of the euro-using countries' club, the Eurogroup, has joined the ranks of people who say it would be OK if Greece left the euro.

Juncker spoke out on Greece in an interview with German TV channel, WRD, on Monday (5 August), in which he also revealed that he works 17 hours a day, but leaves "one or two hours" for reading literature, such as German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He said that "from today's perspective, it [a Greek exit] would be manageable but that does not mean it is desirable."

He added that it will not happen "at least until the end of the autumn" and that if it does, he would know about it from government sources 48 hours before the media finds out.

German economy minister Philipp Rosler in late July already said the prospect of a Greek exit has "lost its terror," while local leaders in Bavaria said Greece should go before the end of the year.

Juncker distanced himself from the German point of view despite his own remarks.

He said some German politicians might not care what happens to the "little people" in Greece and that ordinary Germans "talk about Greece as if this were a people who cannot be respected."

"Perhaps this is the case with Mr Rosler. I do not care ... It would be good if more people in Europe would shut up more often."

The Juncker interview, posted on the Luxembourg government website on Tuesday, comes amid more bad news for Greece.

Its finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, told national press on Tuesday the government still has to agree on €4 billion of cuts to get the next tranche of its bailout.

He noted that he will probably fire more public sector workers and speed up asset sell-offs, with items such as railways, the lottery, an airport and state gas companies likely to go under the hammer.

"The numbers are not easy to find ... We must stay alive until Europe gives a complete solution on the problem of the eurozone," he said.

Stournaras' ideas were immediately savaged by the Democratic Left party, a ruling coalition partner, which called them a "fiasco," and by Syriza, the left-wing opposition party, which dubbed them a "crime."

For its part, US ratings agency Standard & Poor also on Tuesday painted a grim picture of the Greek economy.

It said in a note that Greece is locked in a vicious circle in which its GDP will contract by up to 10 percent in 2012 and 2013, in part due to the very austerity measures designed to avoid a default.

"The fiscal adjustments, if implemented, will in our view prolong the contraction of the economy, leading to a further loss of popular support for future fiscal and structural reforms and hence weakening the new government's already tentative mandate," it said.

It added that Greeks are continuing to pull out money from national banks, that banks are not lending to businesses and that tax collection is "well below target."

For their part, officials in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - one of the three lenders behind the bailout, together with the EU and the European Central Bank (ECB) - told the Wall Street Journal that drastic moves might be needed to stave off bankruptcy.

The IMF sources indicated the ECB and eurozone treasuries should consider writing off another €17 billion of Greek debt and that the EU bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, might need to lend Greek banks €50 billion in a way that keeps the new loan off Greek national books.

Greece running out of cash as talks continue

Coalition partners in Greece have so far failed to agree the details spending cuts required by international lenders to unblock more aid, just as a minister warned cash reserves are drying up.

Greece spooked by Syrian refugees

The surge of Syrian refugees into Turkey has spooked Greece into deploying 1,881 additional guards on its border.

Eurozone leaders to have series of Greece meetings

Eurozone leaders will this week begin a round of shuttle diplomacy focussed on debt-stricken Greece amid reports that Athens' deficit problems are greater than previously thought.

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament votes on new commission next week
  2. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  3. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  4. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  5. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  6. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  7. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  8. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP congress pledges 'moderate' climate solution
  2. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  3. New EU financial instruments needed
  4. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  5. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  6. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  7. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  8. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us