Sunday

23rd Feb 2020

Merkel urges Bundestag to back Greek bailout

  • The Bundestag vote is due at 9am local time on Wednesday (Photo: Tobias Koch)

Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schaeuble have urged German MPs to back the Greek bailout ahead of a Bundestag vote on Wednesday (19 August).

The German chancellor and her finance minister, speaking in separate interviews, praised the Greek government for bowing to German demands for tough reforms.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

  • Migrant crisis to 'preoccupy Europe much, much more than the issue of Greece', says Merkel (Photo: iom.int)

"It doesn't help if we are all nice to each other and in three or four years everything is worse than it already is today”, Merkel told the ZDF public broadcaster on Sunday.

She said the Greek U-turn was “thanks to the tough stance of many countries, but also Wolfgang Schaeuble and the German government”.

She also said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is likely to contribute money, in autumn, to the €86 billion aid programme.

The IMF had previously said it will only take part if there is Greek debt relief and pensions reform.

Merkel told ZDF it might be possible to extend the maturity dates of Greek loans and to reduce interest rates, but that there would be no debt write-downs.

“There is still leeway on the extension of maturities, on interest rates … but it’s also clear that within the eurozone there can be no haircut, no reduction in debt”, she noted.

“Lagarde, the head of the IMF, made very clear that if these conditions are met, she will recommend to the IMF board that the IMF takes part in the programme from October”, Merkel added.

"I have no doubts that what Lagarde said will become reality”.

Schaeuble told the Bild tabloid, also on Sunday, the bailout deal is “responsible” and that Greece won’t get its money unless reforms are “implemented point-by-point”.

He added: “After truly arduous negotiations, they understand now in Greece that the country cannot get around real and far-reaching reforms”.

The Bundestag vote is due at 9am local time on Wednesday.

If it goes through, the European Stability Mechanism, the EU’s Luxembourg-based crisis fund, will give the green light to disburse the first tranche, of €23 billion, on Thursday morning.

The money will allow Greece to repay a €3.2 billion loan to the Europan Central Bank the same day.

Merkel’s grand coalition has 504 MPs in the 631-member parliament.

About 60 of them rebelled in an earlier vote on Greece in July, with some sceptics, such as Wolfgang Bosbacher, a prominent CDU member, continuing to say No, and with Bild predicting that the rebels’ ranks could grow to more than 120 this time around.

“I’m afraid that we are once again buying ourselves a little time with a very, very large amount of money”, Bosbacher told press over the weekend.

Asylum reform

Merkel’s ZDF interview, her first public remarks after her summer break, also highlighted the severity of the migrant crisis in Europe.

She said the issue will “preoccupy Europe much, much more than the issue of Greece and the stability of the euro” in future.

She also indicated that Germany is in favour of reforming EU asylum laws, which, in their current state, put the burden of frontline countries, such as Greece and Italy, where asylum seekers first enter EU territory.

"The issue of asylum could be the next major European project, in which we show whether we are really able to take joint action”, Merkel said.

With Germany expecting to receive 450,000 asylum applications this year, far-right groups have perpetrated more than 200 arson attacks against migrant shelters in the past eight months

“That is unworthy of our country”, the chancellor said.

Insight

How big is Germany's far-right problem?

The Hanau shooting was a national wake-up call to the scale of far-right extremism in Germany, from violent individuals to political hate speech.

Exclusive

Balkan spies 'feed' EU's police database via Czechs

Western Balkan secret services have handed over more the 250 alerts on suspected foreign terrorist fighters since last summer - fed into the EU's police database by the Czech Republic, according to a confidential document seen by EUobserver.

New EU public prosecutor has four staff for 3,000 cases

Laura Kovesi who heads the new European Public Prosecutor's Office, tasked to tackle fraud linked to VAT, money laundering, and corruption across the EU, warned she is dangerously understaffed and underfunded.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us