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04/03 – Greek situation still dominates the EU media

Most European media continue to comment on the aftermath of the recent bail-out agreement with Greece. Greek media report on the latest news regarding the issue: an EC delegation arrived in Greece and EC spokesperson Annika Breidthardt stated that additional experts could be sent to Athens in the coming days if needed, while Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is expected to present six new reforms during the next Eurogroup meeting on Monday.

Les Echos in France adds that Greece will repay €300 million to the IMF this Friday, the first of four debt repayments worth €1.5 billion. Several European media argue on the disbursement of a third investment package, some of them claiming the existence of such a package and others denying it. The Greek daily Efimerida ton Syntakton writes that there is a total “cacophony” in the European Union regarding the Greek debt, with some EU officials such as Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Berlin denying any consideration of a third support package, and EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos claiming the opposite.

Several media quote Luis de Guindos stating that he and his colleagues were currently discussing the third rescue programme to offer Greece more flexible conditions. According to Äripäev in Estonia, Valdis Dombrovskis admitted that this package was necessary, but maintained that the new package will depend on how well Greece will enforce the necessary reforms. Die Welt’s Jan Dams comments on the Greek Minister of Finance’s statements, claiming that while Mr Varoufakis is a “smart mind,” his inconsistency regarding the aid package is confusing. On the opposite hand, the spokesperson for Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici claimed that there has been no talks on a third support package for Greece, and that the EU is now focusing on the implementation of earlier agreements and the examination of reforms proposed by the Greek government, in Cyprus reports.

Äripäev, FAZ and Czech media write that no matter what European personalities claim, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras will reject a further aid package due to the fact that it will come with conditions. Most media moreover report that the amount of the potential package is estimated to be around €30 billion – 50 billion. But most articles remain commentaries and critics of the overall Greek situation.

In Handelsblatt, the President of the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) Clemens Fuest claims that Europe must “dismiss the illusion” that the Greek government will honour its commitments: Athens will agree to conditions in order to obtain the money, but not actually implement the agreed-on reforms. Brazil’s Executive Director at the IMF Paulo Nogueira Batista says on Alpha TV in Greece that the Troika is responsible for the current situation as it gave major loans to Greece in order to rescue German and French banks.

The Daily Telegraph unveils the results of surveys on a Grexit, maintaining that Greece is very likely to leave the euro zone within the next twelve months. In L’Echo, Eubage Laboratory CEO François Licoppe steps in this direction writing that Greece is getting ready for what he calls an “auto-Grexit.” Stefan Kornelius notes in SZ that a Grexit could be a “Graccident” and the Greek government must realise as soon as possible that it is currently isolating itself. A Grexit would have an impact not only on the European economy, but on the geopolitics as well, a commentary in Delo reads.

Losing Greece would be a major blow for the West as the country is located on the EU border and maintains a high military budget in comparison with other member states. According to La Tribune, the only way for Europe to come out of the slump is that Germany finally agrees to implement high wage inflation or decides to exit the euro area, meaning that other European countries could devalue their currency. Nevertheless, in an interview with El Pais, also published in La Repubblica, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker maintains Alexis Tsipras has taken a “fundamental step,” but faces difficulty in admitting that his government cannot keep some of its election promises. ©europeanunion2015

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