Monday

24th Feb 2020

Juncker rebukes Tsipras on parliament speech

  • Juncker - the commission president is seen as sympathetic towards Greece's situation (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker Sunday (7 June) publicly rebuked Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, accusing him of not presenting the whole truth during a key parliamentary address on Friday and of foot-dragging on a promised reform plan.

Speaking in Bavaria ahead of a G7 meeting, Juncker hit back at Tsipras' speech before MPs in Athens saying that a proposal presented in Brussels last Wednesday by Greece's creditors was a take-or-it-leave-it deal to release €7.2bn in bailout money.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He accused the Greek side of not being "capable" of negotiating the text "although I would have welcomed this" and admitted that he refused to speak to Tsipras on Saturday morning.

Juncker said Tsipras had promised to present an "alternative proposal by Thursday evening, then he promised to present it by Friday, he wanted to speak by phone to me on Saturday but I didn't have this alternative proposal yet".

Any such proposal has to be studied before a "formal position" can be taken, said Juncker, adding he hoped all sides would be able to discuss an Athens draft compromise by Wednesday, when EU leaders will be in Brussels for a Latin America Summit.

Tsipras on Friday outright rejected the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank’s list of proposed reforms Greece needed to secure the bailout money.

He told MPs the proposal “presented by Jean-Claude Juncker" was a “bad negotiation trick” and that he hoped it would be “withdrawn”.

It was the latest in a long line of setbacks and false starts in negotiations between Athens and its creditors since the Greece’s left-wing government was elected to power in January on the back of promise to end austerity.

The politics around the discussions have become more acute however as Greece is running out of cash to pay every-day bills and its current bailout expires at the end of this month.

Disappointed

Reacting specifically to the speech, Juncker said he was a “little bit disappointed” by it.

“He was presenting the offer by the three institutions as a take-it-or-leave-it offer. That was not the message given to him. He was presenting the proposals of the three institutions as being mine and being mine exclusively. He knows full well that this is not the case. And he knows perfectly well that I was ready to discuss on the main points of disagreement.”

He also said that Tsipras "did not tell parliament" that they had discussed the issue of pensions - a red line for the Greeks.

Juncker said he did not have a “personal problem” with Tsipras and that he is his “friend”, but “friendship, in order to maintain it, has to observe some minimum rules”.

His words have particular resonance as the commission president is considered the most sympathetic of the negotiators towards the Greek situation, being the first to speak of a humanitarian crisis in the country and to stress the social aspects of any deal.

Juncker said he was against a Greek exit of the euro whose consequences are "unforeseeable" but that this statement should not be interpreted as meaning that he can "pull a rabbit out of a hat" or that a solution can be found without "further efforts".

EU Council president Donald Tusk, for his part, said the negotiations were about politics and morals.

"It is not true that debtors are always moral and creditors always immoral," said the Polish politician.

Agenda

Greece and TTIP shape EU agenda this WEEK

The EU's week will kick off in Bavaria, southern Germany, over the weekend where the bloc's key leaders will gather for a meeting of the world's richest nations.

Tsipras rejects creditors' offer

The Greek prime minister said the proposal presented by Greece's creditors is "a bad negotiation trick" but believes a deal is "closer than ever".

Greece puts debt relief on the table

Greece is trying to introduce debt relief as part of the deal it wants to reach with its creditors as bailout talks enter a critical phase.

No breakthrough at EU budget summit

EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock

Cuts to innovation, space, neighbourhood and other programme-spending push down the latest budget proposal on the table of EU leaders. Rebates could stay on, to win the support of the net-payers for a deal.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel's party suffers worst ever result in Hamburg
  2. 'No need to panic' on coronavirus in Italy, EU says
  3. Erdogan says he will meet Macron, Merkel on Syria
  4. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  5. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  6. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  7. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  8. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win

Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote

A trade deal with Vietnam sailed through the European Parliament's international trade committee and after its embassy sent MEPs bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne over Christmas.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU speaks out against Israeli settler spike
  2. Polish rule of law crisis at point of no return
  3. Africa visit and EU parliament missions This WEEK
  4. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  5. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  6. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  7. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  8. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us