Business World

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Blow for Greece as future in euro is 'not yet decided'

Corina Ruhe and Rainer Buergin

GERMANY and the Netherlands signalled that Greece's future in the euro is not yet assured, as the northern neighbours sought to maintain pressure on Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to hold to agreed reforms.

"It's not yet decided," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said yesterday. "We want Greece to be able to stay in the eurozone. But Greece has a lot to do."

Mr Schaeuble's Dutch colleague, acting Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager, told reporters in The Hague that the Netherlands was "against any delay in the measures the country should take".

While any lag forced by a worsening Greek economy "is something different," it cannot lead to a third aid programme. "We should wait for the report of the troika" of international creditors, he said. "Greece must bear the costs of any delay."

The dual message is a rebuke to Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who triggered investor confusion on Wednesday when he told the parliament in Athens that Greece had won approval for its bid to secure a two-year extension to 2016 for its bailout programme.

The European Commission and European Central Bank, two-thirds of the so-called troika examining Greece's progress in meeting the terms of its bailout, denied that a deal had been struck, saying their review was not yet complete.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is the biggest contributor to Greece's €130bn bailout, said in August when Mr Samaras visited Berlin that she was "deeply convinced" his government would "do what it takes to solve the problem in Greece".

Mr Schaeuble, who is due to meet Finance Minister Michael Noonan on Monday, said that "doubts persist as to whether Greece has been able to meet its obligations". He added: "These doubts have to be dispelled from now on."

European policy makers are awaiting the report on Greece's progress in meeting agreed targets compiled by the troika of the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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