Public Affairs Networking
23/02 – The aftermath of the Eurogroup meeting agreement

Greece continues to be the main topic in the Economic news today after the conclusion of the Eurogroup meetings this weekend. Most media agree on calling this outcome a “defeat” for Alexis Tsipras’ government and his rebellion against the established economic policies in the EU. In France, an article in Les Echos opens with the European Commission’s words saying precisely that there were no winners or losers in the agreement, however, L’Opinion publishes a piece by Eric Le Boucher where he explicitly mentions “Greece’s virtual surrender”, he also criticises Yanis Varoufakis attitude as one of the main causes for the failure.

In the UK, The Guardian’s leader writer points out Greece’s success was to raise awareness on the ill effects of austerity, while two articles in Financial Times show once again heavy criticism with Greece’s attitude during the whole negotiations. The Wall Street Journal focuses on the difficulties Tsipras will face at a PR level in his country by having accepted the agreement, while an article in the INYT suggests that the outcome was successful for Greece, since it was able to push its own reforms.

As usual, the tone of the German media is quite more hostile to Greece, with Berthold Kohler in FAZ claiming that keeping the country in the euro area would benefit Russia, or Ruth Berschens in Handelsblatt blaming it for creating distrust amongst the member states, all the while stating that the EU would survive a “Grexit” if necessary. The trust issue is raised as well by Commissioner Günther Oettinger in an interview, President Jean-Claude Juncker was interviewed as well, in WirtschaftsWoche, and he gave his opinion on the situation in Greece.

Other European leaders were interviewed as well, such as EP President Martin Schulz, who appears on Austria’s Kleine Zeitung to celebrate the agreement, showing a position closer to Greece, and blaming the EU’s fail to keep employment and social promises for the rise of populist movements. Der Standard walks the same line, considering the outcome a victory for Greece. The Spanish media seem to take a position more critical with Greece as well, with El País setting its focus on the divisions the agreement has opened in the midst of the Tsipras government, and ABC heavily criticising his actions in antagonising the euro area members and issuing a patronising warning for Tsipras to follow the Eurogroup’s lead.

In Italy, most media focus on the list of reforms the Greek government is supposed to send the Troika today, while Corriere della Sera points out it lacks the credibility to convince its euro area partners. La Repubblica publishes an interview with one of Varoufakis’ staff economists, who reveals German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s continuous interruptions to the attempts to compromise on an extension of Greece’s bailout programme.

In Greece, the media are also focused on the list of reforms. Real News publishes a positive report on Jean-Claude Juncker’s intervention in the negotiations, stressing his contribution on overcoming deadlocks. The Greek media’s point of view is highly optimistic in the reforms to be presented and the continuation of Tsipras’ policies. In Portugal, Jornal de Notícias also publishes an interview with future Advisor to the EC President, José Silva Peneda, who sympathises with the harshness the Greek people are suffering because of the austerity measures, and criticised the Portuguese PM for being against Greece during the negotiations.

An opinion piece in Publico highlights the fact that Greece has been negotiating only with Germany, and not the whole of the euro area. In the Netherlands, De Volkskrant considers the Eurogroup “taught Syriza a few lessons” for its insolent behaviour. Another article in the same paper, as well as a third one in Trouw celebrates Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s performance in the negotiations.

Gazeta Wyborcza in Poland compares Greece with its Balkan neighbours, saying that the main reasons for its current situation are “corruption, tax evasion and employment of cronies”. ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny makes a comment in a similar line in the Czech Republic’s Euro, noting that the situation in Greece is mainly a political issue. An article in Denmark’s Information makes it a point to insist that the Greek government has been bullied by the EU into accepting the agreement, which it considers “a continuation of the past four years’ unsuccessful reform programme”.©EuropeanUnion2015

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