Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Juncker praises Greek austerity amid talks to disband troika

Incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday (4 August) said he did everything in his power to keep Greece within the eurozone during the height of the financial crisis.

“I fought like a lion against the intention of those who wanted to have a grexit from the eurozone,” Juncker told reporters in Athens.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking alongside Greek prime minister Antonia Samaras, Juncker praised Greek efforts to stabilise its economy with the budget-cutting measures having contributed to record-high unemployment and a sharp rise in poverty.

Greece’s unemployment rate at the onset of the financial crisis in May 2008 was 7.3 percent. It then shot up to a record high of 28 percent earlier this year with more than half of those under-25 without a job.

But Juncker warned that the crisis is not yet over.

“Many developments, events show us how fragile the situation is not only in Greece but elsewhere,” he said.

As former chair of the eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Juncker helped negotiate and supervise bailout packages for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The eurogroup is seen as a ‘fourth’ member of the so-called 'troika' of lenders - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

In a report earlier this year, MEPs described the troika as an “ad-hoc” set-up with no clear legal basis and with no democratic scrutiny.

Representatives from the troika regularly go to bailed-out countries to assess how they are implementing reforms. Their reports form the basis for decisions on whether countries should get the next tranche of aid.

Troika set to be dismantled

But on Monday, Reuters reported that senior EU officials are now in early discussions on disbanding the troika and allowing Greece greater freedom to formulate and pursue its own policies.

"There would be no troika," an unnamed official told the news agency.

"There must be Greek ownership of reform. The Greeks have until October to come up with a programme, which would be decided by December for the start of 2015,” added the source.

Greece obtained two bailouts totalling €240 billion.

But the cash-strapped Greek government is still facing €320 billion in debt or the equivalent to 175 percent of its entire annual economic.

One idea, reports Reuters, is to award Greece some debt relief for every milestone achieved once it commits to a six-year plan of reform. The IMF would still supervise the country until 2016.

The troika would be scrapped in favour of a special European Commission taskforce. The taskforce would then check up on Greek reforms twice a year.

In case things go wrong, Greece would get a precautionary eurozone loan and tighter supervision.

Opinion

Europe needs hope

The victory of Syriza in Greece is important not only for Greek people, but also the rest of Europe. With the crisis and the rise of the far-right, a left alternative is urgent.

End-of-troika debate amplifies ahead of Greek elections

A legal opinion by the EU top court and comments by the EU economics commissioner about the end of the bailout troika have come just days before elections in Greece, where troika-imposed austerity is a central issue.

Opinion

The EU's hypocrisy toward Greece

EU leaders have shown total contempt for their commitments to social and labour protections in their policy towards Greece.

Germany: No need to get rid of troika

Germany sees no need to put an end to the 'troika' of international creditors in Greece, in a snub to EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

Analysis

Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap

While a cap on revenues from renewables is aimed at redirecting excess profits from low-cost electricity generation back to consumers, analysts and industry groups argue such measures come with risks — and at a bad time.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us