Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Greece would challenge forced euro exit

  • Varoufakis would 'certainly consider an injunction' at the European Court of Justice. (Photo: Gwenael Piaser)

The Greek government is considering suing the EU if it tries to push Greece out of the eurozone after Sunday's (5 July) referendum on the creditors' plan for reforms.

“We are taking advice and will certainly consider an injunction at the European Court of Justice. The EU treaties make no provision for euro exit and we refuse to accept it. Our membership is not negotiable”, finance minister Yanis Varoufakis told

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the Daily Telegraph.

The warning comes as Greece's EU partners made clear on Monday that they consider the referendum to be a vote on Greece's euro membership.

The vote is about "whether the Greeks want to stay in the eurozone or take the risk of leaving," France's Francois Hollande said. Germany's vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that a No vote would be "against remaining in the euro".

In an emotional press conference in Brussels, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker note that "Greek citizens must say Yes to Europe" and warned them "not to commit suicide".

'We’ll survive'

The EU leaders' point of view stands in diametric opposition to the Greek government's argument that a No vote will strengthen its negotiating position with the creditors - the commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund.

"Our aim is that the referendum is followed by negotiations for which we will be better armed," prime minister Alexis Tsipras said in a interview on ERT public TV on Monday night.

"We’ll survive. We’ll stand on our feet. We’ll be alive and we’ll choose in a sovereign way what our future will be like," he added.

The Greek PM suggested he could resign or form a unity government if the Greeks voted Yes in the referendum, saying he "would act in line with the constitution."

"I’m in this seat because it was the choice of the people. As long as the people support this decision, I will be present. I will respect the people’s verdict," he said.

He did not clarify whether he would sign the creditors' proposal if he remained prime minister after a Yes vote, however.

For their part, EU leaders did not clarify how they’d proceed if the No wins on Sunday, making it equally difficult to envisage the nature of Greece’s legal reaction, as per Varoufakis’ warning.

Greek finances and euro membership are currently being underpinned by the ECB’s liquidity assistance programme.

In an interview with France's Les Echos, ECB board member Benoit Coeure said that “the exit of Greece from the euro area, which was a theoretical point, can unfortunately no longer be ruled out."

The ECB will support the Greek financial system, but not under any conditions, he noted.

"We can provide the Emergency Liquidity Assistance to the banks provided that they are solvent, that the guarantees are good, and that it does not interfere with the ECB's monetary policy”.

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