The eurozone is preparing for a new face-to-face tense Friday. Objective? Snatch a last-minute compromise on extending the financing of Greece.
The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis (Archives). (AFP / ODD ANDERSEN)
After two failures, the Eurogroup summit on Friday 20 February in Brussels seems to be the last chance. Lack of agreement on an extension of the Greek aid program, Greece may indeed find themselves quickly running out of money, and pushed out of the eurozone. Time is short, as several national parliaments will then give their approval before the program comes to an end on 28 February.
Greece resolutely turn the page of austerity. But Germany, whose inflexibility is embodied by his finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble conservative, Athens requires further consolidates public finances and structural reforms that were requested in exchange of two support plans amounting to EUR 240 billion.
Berlin is not alone on this line, shared by Finland and the Baltic countries to the north, or south through Spain and Portugal. But it is Germany that “locks” he told Thursday a European source. “There is a real problem of people” between the austere Wolfgang Schäuble and his Greek counterpart, flamboyant Yanis Varoufakis, as tensions between the two men are the delight of the press for several days.
Thursday, Athens was an important step towards a compromise and resolved to request an “extension” of the financial assistance agreement that the euro area to accept the summoned before the end of the semaine.Dans mail addressed to the head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Greek government said it also prepared to accept the “supervision” of its creditors (EU, ECB and IMF) and pledged to refrain from “any action unilateral “that would undermine its budgetary targets.
He claims in exchange for” flexibility “to return to the most painful austerity measures, as Alexis Tsipras, the new Prime Minister of radical left, the has promised during his successful campaign. The term “flexibility” is likely to be hotly debated, with some countries fearing that Greece uses them to ignore its commitments.
Just received the application for extension, the German Ministry of Finance the curtly rejected, seeing “no substantial solution.” This position was later tempered by the Minister of Economy, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel, who spoke of a “basis for negotiations”.
Berlin “following a harder line than expressed at the last meeting of finance ministers of the euro area February 16, “lamented a Greek government source. Athens then made fuiter the position taken by Germany during a preparatory senior officials meeting in the Eurogroup, which illustrates all the mistrust of Berlin vis-à-vis the new Greek government. Germany has compared his request for extension of a “Trojan horse” that would aim to achieve a “bridge financing” several months “to end the current program” and therefore to the austerity measures that contains.
In a final attempt to convince Berlin, Alexis Tsipras met Thursday night for fifty minutes with Chancellor Angela Merkel. He also called French President Francois Hollande, said a Greek government source. The Prime Minister hopes to reach “a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and the euro area.” The United States, meanwhile, warned the EU against possible “renewed uncertainty.”
Key figures of the Greek debt. (/ Graphics AFP)