24th Sep 2020

EU parliament chief attacks Merkel 'Grexit' talk

  • Schulz said EU interference could provoke a backlash by Greek voters (Photo:

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz has spoken out against German speculation on Greece leaving the euro.

Leading German media this week reported that chancellor Angela Merkel had said if the far-left Syriza party wins snap elections in Greece it would likely force the debt-ridden country to quit the single currency.

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 subscribe as a group

The German government has refuted the comments.

But Schulz, in an interview published in the German daily Die Welt on Wednesday (7 January) lashed out at the Merkel scenario, describing her imputed euro-exit talk as “irresponsible”.

He also warned EU states and institutions against interfering in the Greek democratic process.

"It should be clear to everyone: There is no question of a withdrawal from the euro”, he said.

“The unsolicited comments which give the people of Greece the idea that it's not for them to decide their future via their votes, but up to Brussels or Berlin could even push electors into the arms of radical forces”.

Greece has suffered from years of high unemployment and next-to-no growth despite two bailouts worth €240 billion from a “troika” of international lenders - the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank.

It has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 170 percent, amid behind-the-scenes talks on a possible third bailout worth €30 billion.

The loans come with strings attached in the form of austerity measures.

But polls indicate the anti-austerity Syriza could oust the centre-right government in elections at the end of this month.

Syriza head Alexis Tsipras has said he wants to stay in the euro.

But his comments on writing off part of the troika debt have spooked investors, with Greek stock markets hitting historic lows in the run-up to the 25 January vote.

The German controversy aside, the European Commission in early December also waded into Greek politics.

The snap election was triggered because Greek PM Antonis Samaris failed to get his presidential candidate, Stavros Dimas, into office despite the commission’s endorsements.

On Monday, the EU executive refrained from further comments on the election.

But it referred media to statements made by Pierre Moscovici, the EU commissioner for economic affairs, late last year.

“Through this democratic process, the Greek people will once again decide on their future,” Moscovici said in December.

"A strong commitment to Europe and broad support among the Greek voters and political leaders for the necessary growth-friendly reform process will be essential for Greece to thrive again within the euro area".


The eurozone's debt moment

After Greek elections, Brussels and Berlin can no longer shun the issue of debt relief.

MEPs fearful of 'red zone' Strasbourg plenary

Parliament president David Sassoli is to make the final decision on travelling to Strasbourg ahead of the leadership and parliamentary group chairs meeting on Thursday.


Beyond Salvini: the rise of Eurosceptic Giorgia Meloni

There is only one woman among Italy's most-powerful politicians: Giorgia Meloni, 43, president of Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), an ultra-conservative party allied with Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Forward Italy).

News in Brief

  1. German foreign minister in coronavirus quarantine
  2. Report: Roma life expectancy '10 years lower'
  3. US corona death toll passes 200,000
  4. Greece and Turkey agree to resume talks in Istanbul
  5. Seven countries found MidEast energy forum, without Turkey
  6. Four more states join EU medical strategic stockpile
  7. Malta police arrest chief of staff of ex-PM
  8. EP pushing for effective rule-of-law mechanism


On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link
  2. EU states struggle to better sync Covid-19 measures
  3. EP groups drop homophobe from Sakharov prize
  4. Legal complaint filed with EU Commission over migration
  5. Coronavirus: Will a second wave divide Europe again?
  6. Coronavirus: the Swedish model was worth emulating
  7. Time to fix Europe's broken migration and asylum system
  8. Covid-19: How is Eastern Europe bracing for a second wave?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us