Friday

15th Dec 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Analysis

EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Brexit will dramatically change the balance between EU members states that have the euro and those that don't. The thinking on the future of the eurozone is done at EU-27 level - but opposing camps will have to be reconciled.

Facebook to shift ad revenue away from Ireland

Public pressure about low corporate taxes appear to have pressured Facebook to launch plans to stop routing international ad sales through its Dublin-based headquarters in Ireland.

News in Brief

  1. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  2. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  3. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  4. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  5. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  6. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  7. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont
  8. French central bank lifts 2017 growth forecast

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  2. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  3. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states
  4. EU asylum debate reopens old wounds
  5. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  6. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  7. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  8. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives