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17/02 – Eurogroup’s negotiations failure on Greece

Most member states’ media focused mainly on the bad result of the Eurogroup meeting and the mutual accusations the Greek government exchanges with its European partners on who to blame for that failure.

In the UK, Economics Editor Ed Conway writes in The Times that Greece’s negotiators are unexperienced, and that Spain and Germany base their positions on potential domestic political concerns. The Guardian leads with a report on the talks between Greece and its euro area creditors, which “collapsed in disarray” when Athens was told that its extension of the bailout package was needed to continue the negotiations.

Financial Times reports that this treatment is sparking protests in Portugal. Germany’s Deutschlandfunk estimates that Greece leaving the euro area may imply its departure from the European Union as well, while banking expert Hans-Peter Burghof argues in ZDF that the Grexit would actually be Greece’s best option at the moment. Cerstin Gammelin criticises Yanis Varoufakis in his role as negotiator, saying his proposal is “impertinent”.

Der Tagesspiegel says the Eurogroup wants to help Greece fend for itself, while the country wants only to be given money without compromise. FAZ notes that both sides blame each other for the failure of the negotiations. In France, former MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit is interviewed in Libération, where he says the German strategy is “suicidal” and that it “underestimates the exhaustion of the Greek society”, however, he also adds that the “Greek government is blatantly immature”. In an opinion piece in La Croix, the author says the euro area has shown “dysfunction” in managing the Greek crisis and shows to be in favour of a debt reduction.

In Le Monde, Cécile Ducourtieux showed scepticism in yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting being the last, and lamented there is no time left to find a politically acceptable solution. An article in Le Figaro criticises heavily Greece’s decision of claiming WWII reparations to Germany. In Spain, Expansión lead writer warns against Greece’s debt burden to be converted into a weapon to blackmail the rest of the euro area, while an article in El Mundo notes Tsipras’ success in finding allies for his cause.

El País reports on the outcome of yesterday’s failed negotiation, as does Rai Tre in Italy along several other Italian media. Corriere della Sera says that Varoufakis expected to sign a document mediated by European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, but found instead an extension of the existing programme, pushed by Jeroen Dijsselbloem under pressure of Wolfgang Schäuble and other centre-right ministers. Il Sole 24 Ore adds that Greece accused the Eurogroup leader of purposefully torpedoing the Commission’s compromise proposal.

Former Italian Minister Vincenzo Visco highlights in another article in Il Sole the “faults” of Europe and Germany in handling the Greek debt crisis, while Luigi Offeddu blames both Greece and Germany for the situation in Corriere della Sera. La Repubblica issues an editorial saying it is already “too late” to find an agreement over Greece’s debt situation, since its economy may have already passed the “point of no return”. Greece’s Kathimerini includes Varoufakis’ regret at the Eurogroup’s replacement of the Commission’s draft agreement, and another article shows increased worry at the ultimatum given in the meeting. Avghi reports on the climate created by this situation in a negative tone, and blames the meeting failure on a purposeful action by Mr Dijsselbloem and Mr Schäuble.

Nerit writes a similar review of the meeting’s aftermath in a similar tone. In an opinion piece by MEP Paulo Rangel published in Portugal’s Publico, the author blames the rise of populism and extremism on the bad political decisions made by Europe in managing the crisis, giving the situation in Greece as an example. In Belgium, Soir Première discusses the Eurogroup meeting, while L’Echo says Greece could survive without a rescue programme thanks to the ECB Emergency Liquidity Assistance. An article in De Tijd reveals that Estonia and Luxembourg are the only two EU member states never to have infringed on the European budgetary rules, and that Ireland, Malta, Poland and France score even worse than Greece in the analysis.

In Croatia, Jutarnji list describes the lack of optimism at the beginning of the meeting on Monday, while Index and Tportal report of Mr Varoufakis’ rejection of all the Eurogroup’s compromise suggestions without offering new ideas instead. In Cyprus, all media report extensively on the Eurogroup developments, focusing particularly on Dijsselbloem’s “ultimatum” to Greece.

Hospodářské noviny in the Czech Republic warns that Greece may default on its debt as early as March unless it asks for bailout extension, quoting the Bruegel think tank. Eesti Päevaleht worries that the Greek situation may bring a political storm back to Estonia that could complicate its national election, unless it fully capitulates.

The US press also gives coverage to the situation, with an opinion piece in The New York Times comparing the state of the Greek economy with that of Ireland in 2010, while the INYT includes a commentary by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis where he dismisses the notion that he is using game theory techniques in Greece’s negotiations for new terms to its international bailout. Alberto Gallo argues in The Wall Street Journal Europe that the rules need to be changed if the ECB wishes Greece to remain a member of the euro area.©EuropeanUnion2015

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