Tuesday 24 October 2017

Debt Crisis: Europe could survive if Greece left the eurozone – EU official

Neelie Kroes, Vice-president of the European Commission
Neelie Kroes, Vice-president of the European Commission

Independent.ie reporters

GREECE could leave the eurozone without damaging the monetary union, Dutch vice-president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes said in an interview.

She added that while she did not support Greece leaving, the area could do without Athens.

"It is absolutely not a case of man overboard if someone leaves the eurozone. It's always said: if you let one nation go, or ask one to leave, the entire structure will collapse. But that is just not true,” she said in an interview with the Volkskrant newspaper.

As pressure mounts for the country to accept the tough austerity terms set out by the EU/IMF/ECB in return for €130bn in bailout loans, the country’s leaders are meeting again this evening.

All coalition parties must agree to the terms – Greece is also under pressure because it needs to made a €14bn repayment of bonds next month.

This evenings meetings will be headed up by Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports that agreement has been reached on about €2.5bn of a total of €3.3bn of spending cuts which the troika has demanded.

These include €1.1bn in health cuts, a cut in Greece’s minimum wage to be hit by between 20pc and 22pc to €750 a month with a concession on the country’s 13th and 14th bonus monthly salaries.

In addition, 15,000 jobs will be cut from the civil service by the end of this year.

A 24-hour strike was underway today.

Public transport has been brought to a halt in the capital Greece with 20,000 people protesting against the cuts.

Later, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso insisted that Greece will remain in the euro zone.

"The cost of a Greek exit from the euro zone would be higher than the cost of continuing to support Greece," he told reporters.

Failure in the resolution of the Greek crisis weighed on investors today as world markets fell further into the red.

Wall Street's Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.4pc lower while in London the FTSE 100 Index fell 34.3 points to 5857.9.

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