Greek crisis: surrender fiscal sovereignty in return for bailout, Merkel tells Tsipras

Are you starting to see the bigger picture yet? Yesterday it was Cyprus, today it’s Greece. Tomorrow it could be France, Italy and Spain.

 

You have not anchored Germany to Europe,… You have anchored Europe to a newly dominant, unified Germany. In the end, my friends, you’ll find it will not work.

– Margaret Thatcher

The Fourth Reich has landed.

 

German and French leaders press Greek leader for guarantees over austerity measures in what an EU official describes as ‘extensive mental waterboarding’

European leaders have confronted the Greek government with a draconian package of austerity measures entailing a surrender of fiscal sovereignty as the price of avoiding financial collapse and being ejected from the single currency bloc.

A weekend of high tension that threatened to break Europe in two climaxed on Sunday night at a summit of eurozone leaders in Brussels where the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and President François Hollande of France presented Greece’s radical prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, with an ultimatum.

In what a senior EU official described as an “exercise in extensive mental waterboarding” to secure Greek acquiescence to talks on a third bailout in five years worth up to €86bn (£62bn), the two leaders pressed for absolute certainty from Tsipras that he would honour what was on offer.

Two days of high-stakes negotiations between the finance ministers of the currency bloc resulted in a four-page document that included controversial German elements leaked on Saturday. Those measures included Greece leaving the euro temporarily by taking a “time-out” from the currency bloc if it refuses terms for talks on the new bailout or, in the event of agreement, that Greece sets aside €50bn worth of assets as collateral for new loans and for eventual privatisation. Both passages, however, did not enjoy a consensus among eurozone leaders.

The Eurogroup document said experts from the troika of creditors – the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank – would be on the ground in Athens to monitor the proposed bailout programme. The trio would also have a say in all relevant Greek draft legislation before it is presented to parliament. Furthermore, the Greeks will have to amend all legislation already passed by the Syriza government this year that had not been agreed with the creditors.

While Greece’s fate was being debated in Brussels, in Athens the ruling leftwing Syriza party was showing signs of disintegration. Demands that the reforms be approved by the Greek government and put into law by Wednesday were described as “utter blackmail” by leading party members and met with disbelief.

Although sources close to Tsipras said the leader was determined to do whatever was needed to keep Grexit at bay, political tumult also beckoned. Insiders conceded that a cabinet reshuffle – removing ministers who had refused to vote the austerity package through parliament early on Saturday – could come as early as Monday.

By late Sunday night it had become clear that Tsipras’s U-turn on measures he had once spurned had produced a potentially far-reaching split. In addition to 17 MPs breaking ranks at the weekend – stripping his government of a working majority – 15 other lawmakers also indicated they would not approve the agreement in its entirety. The resistance raises the spectre of Tsipras being forced to call fresh elections – a move described as potentially catastrophic for the country.

“Greece can bend up to a point,” said Aristides Hatzis, a prominent political commentator. “But after that there is no bending, only breaking.”

Full article: Greek crisis: surrender fiscal sovereignty in return for bailout, Merkel tells Tsipras (The Guardian)

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