Thursday

23rd May 2019

Dutch and German MPs endorse Greek bailout

  • Schaeuble: 'No guarantee that everything [the bailout] will work' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Greece will get its new EU bailout money on Thursday (20 August) morning, after Dutch and German MPs backed the deal.

Dutch MPs voted 81 in favour and 52 against on Wednesday.

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  • Rutte, dubbed 'Pinocchio' for breaking his election pledge (Photo: NewsPhoto!)

They also swatted down a no-confidence motion against PM Mark Rutte brought by eurosceptic MP Geert Wilders, which got a handful of votes.

German MPs earlier the same day voted 454 in favour and 113 against. The No vote included 63 rebels from chancellor Angela Merkel’s party.

The German Bundestag had the formal power to stop the bailout.

The Dutch vote was less important because the Dutch cabinet, not parliament, ratifies the Greece decision. But a parliament No would have caused a political mess.

The Dutch debate saw Rutte praise Greece for legislating on “prior actions” - a list of reforms demanded by the other euro states.

His finance minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who negotiated the reforms in his role as chairman of the Eurogroup, said: “Can this programme work? Yes. Look at Spain, Ireland, Portugal”.

"Greece has seen decades of bad policies and six months of complete chaos”, he added.

MPs voiced concern on whether the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will join the bailout or whether the Greek government will collapse.

Wilders called Greece a “junkie” state and called Rutte “the Pinocchio of the low countries”, referring to the PM’s election promise not to lend Greece more money.

The German debate was led by finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

He said “there is no guarantee that everything [the bailout] will work”, but also that “it would be irresponsible to not use the opportunity for a new start in Greece”.

He added that he is “fairly confident” the IMF will come on board.

Klaus-Peter Willsch, one of the Merkel rebels, said you can’t keep the euro together “against the will of the people”.

He warned the single currency will fail “if we don’t allow the eurozone to breathe, and that means to allow Greece to exit now with its own currency”.

Last step

The Dutch and German decisions complete the eurozone ratifications.

The last step in the process is a board meeting of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the EU’s anti-crisis fund in Luxembourg, on Wednesday evening.

The ESM will pay out the new Greek loans, starting with €23 billion on Thursday morning, enabling Athens to repay a European Central Bank loan due the same day.

Klaus Regling, the ESM director, said last week the board decision will be a formality.

Meanwhile, the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, has asked for the European Parliament to join the European Commission, the ECB, and the IMF in monitoring bailout compliance.

He said in a letter, cited by the AP news agency on Wednesday, to EU parliament chief Martin Schulz that the EU assembly should have "full and direct involvement ... in the regular review process".

"I deem it politically imperative that the sole European institution with a direct popular mandate acts as the ultimate guarantor of democratic accountability and the compatibility of economic policy in Europe with European political and social [standards]".

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