Monday

27th Mar 2017

Greek plea for 'breathing space' falls on deaf ears for now

  • Greece's uncertain eurozone future was left unchanged by Juncker's meeting with Samaras (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Greece's request for 'breathing space' will go unanswered for at least another month as its lenders say they are determined to wait for a formal assessment of its reform progress before granting Athens any leeway on its bailout programme.

The blunt message was delivered in person by eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday (22 August) in Athens.

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.

"I have to underline this will depend on the findings of the troika mission and we have to discuss the length of the period and other dimensions," Juncker said in reference to Greek hopes to be allowed a further two years to reach budget targets.

While noting that he was on Greece's side and condemning EU politicians who continue to speculate about Greece's exit from the eurozone, Juncker said it was the country's "last chance" to avoid bankruptcy.

The troika report - put together by experts from EU commission, the ECB and the IMF and due out late September - will also influence the more immediate decision of whether Athens gets paid the next tranche of its €130bn bailout.

For his part, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that Greeks – who are witnessing their country’s fifth year of recession – “want light at the end of the tunnel.”

Promising that "credibility" will soon be restored, he said that the privatization programme – long a point of criticism for lenders – will be widened and that an €11.7bn austerity package is near to being finalized.

Samaras has also being putting in some very public diplomatic spadework for his beleaguered country.

He told Bild - Germany’s most widely-read newspaper and fervent guardian of the public purse – that a deadline extension would not mean more German taxpayers’ money.

“We require no additional money. All we want is a little room to breathe, to get the economy going and to increase government revenues. More time does not automatically mean more money.”

He left a similar message in Thursday’s edition of the left-leaning Sueddeutsche Zeitung

“The Germans will get their money back. I am guaranteeing that personally. And all the others will also get their money back. We will fulfill our obligations fully.”

He also noted that his country will be “broke” if it does not receive the next slice of the bailout.

The Greek leader has two more important meetings this week, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday and France’s Francois Hollande on Saturday.

Merkel herself is facing a political tightrope as she tries to keep Greece in the eurozone while facing down political allies increasingly unhappy at sending money to Athens.

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.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change