Tuesday 16 January 2018

Noonan backs Germans in Greek cash standoff

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, left, speaks with Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, left, speaks with Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
(L-R) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attend a Eurozone emergency summit on Greece in Brussels
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

Finance Minister Michael Noonan adopted a hardline stance on the European Central Bank giving emergency funding to keep the Greek banks afloat.

Mr Noonan sided with Germany in warning the provision of day-to-day emergency ECB lending to Greece cannot continue indefinitely.

The Finance Minister was among the toughest contributors in talks on the EU's response to the Greek crisis.

At a heated finance ministers' meeting, Mr Noonan and his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schaeuble, argued that the ECB governing council could not keep meeting every day to approve emergency loans to Greece.

But ECB officials told the ministers not to interfere with monetary policies.

Mr Noonan is among those worried about what will happen if Greeks continue to withdraw vast amounts of cash from their saving accounts, but a source said he stopped short of calling for controls on Greek banks.

An option in this scenario is to introduce a measure known as capital controls, which would limit the movement of money from the banks in Greece and lock down Greek depositors.

The measure was introduced in the eurozone for the first time two years ago in Cyprus, with limits on credit card transactions, daily withdrawals, money transfers abroad and the cashing of cheques to prevent an outflow of euro.

The clashes among finance ministers came ahead of a summit of eurozone leaders last night to discuss Greek proposals to raise the pension age and VAT rates in return for financial concessions from other member states.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived late for the EU summit following problems with the Government jet, which was flying him from Knock.

Irish Independent

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