Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

Euro leaders expect Tsipras to make concessions

  • 'We are 18 with the same money, so everybody must be responsible show solidarity,' Merkel said (Photo: Consilium.europa.eu)

Most eurozone leaders coming to Brussels for an emergency summit on Tuesday (7 July) are likely to maintain a tough line when Greek PM Alexis Tsipras presents his new bailout proposal.

According to an EU source quoted by Greece's Kathimerini, 16 out of 18 of Tsipras' colleagues around the table are in favour of letting Greece leave the eurozone.

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Only France and Italy appear ready to accept Tsipras’ demands on debt relief and investments.

"There is no taboo on debt, on rescheduling, on the fact that we restructure [the debt]”, French prime minister Manuel Valls said on Tuesday morning on French RTL radio.

On his Facebook page, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi wrote that Tuesday's Eurogroup and euro summit "should point to a definitive way to resolve this emergency”.

"If we remain immobile, prisoners to regulation and bureaucracy, Europe is finished”, he said, asking for "policies and not just parameters, values and not just numbers”.

On Tuesday morning, Luxembourg's finance minister Pierre Gramegna also said that a "[debt] haircut is not taboo for Luxembourg in the sense that everything can be talked about”.

"But it has to be talked about in a global package," he said on Luxembourg's 100,7 Radio.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Paris on Monday, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande indicated eurozone leaders expect Tsipras to move toward their positions.

Eurozone leaders will "elaborate a position on the basis of the proposal presented by Greece”, Hollande said.

"It's now up to the government of Alexis Tsipras to offer serious, credible proposals so that this can be turned into a programme which gives a long-term perspective”.

Merkel said: “We have already shown a lot of solidarity with Greece and the last offer was also a very generous offer”.

In Athens, Tsipras obtained the backing of the four main parties "to continue and strengthen the effort to reach a socially fair and economically viable deal”, after the 61-percent No vote by Greek people on Sunday against creditors' demands.

The summit will also show "the reaction of the 18 other countries" to the referendum, Merkel warned.

"This is also democracy, we have a shared sovereignty. We are 18 with the same money [as Greece], so everybody must be responsible and show solidarity”, she said.

Merkel, like other eurozone leaders, is under strong public pressure not to make new concessions to Greece.

German tabloid Bild on Tuesday showed Merkel with a military helmet, saying Germany needs "the iron chancellor" to force "an immediate Grexit".


Sunday's referendum revealed a strong gap between Greece and many other eurozone countries.

If the Greek government went to Brussels thinking its partners will change their minds because of the No, "then I think it is over, " Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs on Monday.

"If things stay the way they are, then we're at an impasse. There is no other choice, they must be ready to accept deep reforms," he said.

Governments from Central and Eastern Europe were even tougher on Greece.

"With the result of the referendum, a possible crisis scenario, the gradual withdrawal of Greece from the eurozone, is unfolding”, Slovakia's finance minister Peter Kazimir said Monday.

In Estonia, president Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted that "Greece's creditors [are] NOT just banks" and pointed out that "eurozone countries poorer than Greece could lose up to 4.2 percent of GDP”.

In Spain, finance minister De Guindos admitted that Greece had "all the right in the world" to ask for a new aid programme, but said the Greek referendum made “things more difficult".

Speaking at the European Parliament Tuesday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker noted that "the ball is clearly in the Greek camp" and added that no one should expect a final agreement on Tuesday evening.

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