Wednesday

11th Dec 2019

Extra aid for Greece on table after Luxembourg meeting

  • Greece may need a further €25 billion to cover its debts next year (Photo: Aster-oid)

Another round of aid for Greece and an overhaul of its bail-out package is under consideration, European officials have said following a meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg on Friday (6 May) that attendees struggled to keep secret.

With the likelihood of Athens' ability to return to money markets in 2012 ever-diminishing, a select clutch of eurozone finance ministers gathered in the Grand Duchy to discuss possible options.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Finance ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Greece attended the meeting alongside EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn.

Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou informed the core eurozone states on his own economy's state of play.

Even taking into account the €110 billion EU-IMF loan, Greece must find an estimated additional €25 billion by next year to finance debt repayments.

"We think that Greece does need a further adjustment program," eurogroup chair and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said following the meeting.

However, the possibility of Greece withdrawing from the single currency was not discussed, as had initially been reported by Germany's Der Spiegel Online.

"We're not discussing the exit of Greece from the euro area. This is a stupid idea - no way," he said. "We don't want to have the euro area exploding without any reasons."

French business broadsheet Les Echos is reporting that Papaconstantinou had won agreement on a further €20-25 billion being made available.

A restructuring or controlled default on the country's debt appears to have been ruled out, favouring instead an additional chunk of bail-out cash.

"We were excluding the restructuring option which is discussed heavily in certain quarters of the financial markets," Juncker continued.

Possible options beyond hiking the sums in the €110 billion rescue package provided to Greece last May include extending the payment period.

Athens has already won one round of easing for its payment terms this year. Allowing the EU's €440-billion rescue fund to purchase Greek bonds may be another option.

No decision has been made however, but the choices are to be presented to EU finance ministers later this month.

The ministers who organised the bungled secret meeting have since come in for criticism for their handling of the situation.

Finance ministries and the European Commission issued a series of denials or statements saying little more than 'no comment' after Der Spiegel first reported the meeting, only to confirm that the meeting had gone ahead afterward.

Officials however stressed that no discussion on a Greek euro withdrawal was discussed, but admissions that they had lied about the meeting raise questions as to whether these statements are honest as well.

The single currency declined in the wake of the rumours, sliding to $1.4316 at one point, down 1.3 percent.

One EU official told this website: "Why we needed another hamfisted cloak-and-dagger game that only sends journalists and speculators into a frenzy and makes us all look a bit silly beats me."

Senior experts from the EU-IMF-ECB troika descend upon Athens on Tuesday to review the government's latest €26 billion austerity plans and scheme to sell off €50 billion in state assets.

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.

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Manchego cheese, Panjin rice and Polish vodka will all be protected under a new EU-China agreeement. But the two trading giants continue to struggle over other trade-related deals.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs protest against PM Babis over EU subsidy 'fraud'
  2. EU disbursed €2.7bn for Turkey refugees
  3. UK ports set to host EU border checks for Northern Ireland
  4. EU puts tech giants in crosshairs
  5. Faroe Islands under pressure to chose Huawei
  6. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  7. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  8. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'

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.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us