Friday, February 20, 2015

The euro zone requires Greece high price to extend his help – Les Echos

The euro zone requires Greece high price to extend his help – Les Echos

A compromise was found in fine. The Eurogroup President speaks of a newfound confidence. But is still very fragile. On Monday, the Greek government must file its list of reforms.

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Is Finally this good? Shortly before 21 hours, the finance ministers of the eurozone reached a compromise on the Greek bailout. Locked up since the beginning of the afternoon in the Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the European Council, the central bankers have agreed on a Memorandum of text on the extension of the aid plan in Athens, which expires on 28 February.

A rigorous text that frames the process of negotiations with the Greeks in a very tight bodice. A negotiated text before the official start of the meeting by Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the President of the Eurogroup (the body bringing together the finance ministers of the euro area) with the main players of the file (ECB, IMF, Germany and Greece ). The extension granted is ultimately only for 4 months until end of June. The Greek Government, the snake swallowing is hard. On Monday, they must submit their reform program and the three institutions, European Commission, IMF and ECB should judge whether he is strong enough that the program is judged as a “valid starting point” to move towards a successful conclusion of syllabus. If yes, the Eurogroup will telephone the green light to the extension of the program.

If not, it will convene a new Eurogroup Tuesday. But each is determined to do everything to avoid it. Greek Finance Minister may well have expressed his pleasure to have the freedom to write his own script and not one imposed in the old program, the pen will be under control.

For the rest, Greece accepts the agreement promises to repay its creditors must comply with the old procedures, and therefore will not get money unless it gets a green light from the end of April institutions. She agrees to take no action unilaterally or to go back to the reforms already carried out. The IMF confirmed its position as the ECB gets to block 10 billion euros of aid for the recapitalization of banks, while this sum was available to the budget before the Greek elections. But the numbers spoke, leaving the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras little choice. The Greeks withdrew € 2 billion from their bank accounts in a week, Greek television even evoking a billion withdrawal in the last two days. For Greek banks, the situation became untenable next week. Thanks to the agreement avoids a check of imminent capital, rejoiced a source close to the ECB.

In this context, the meeting started at an incredible level of tension. During difficult negotiations, it is customary for the main characters find themselves alone in an isolated room before the meeting between the 19 ministers, to reconcile their views. A small table, no witnesses, and discussion rambling to overcome the difficulties. This is what happened on Friday with Wolfgang Schäuble and Yanis Varoufakis … except that the two ministers were not even in the same room. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the President of the Eurogroup, Pierre Moscovici, the Commissioner in charge of Economic Affairs and Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, were reduced to shuttle between the two protagonists, who can not be visibly suffering. “It Schäuble and Varoufakis takes more than being in the same room, you must leave this psychodrama,” warned a senior European official two days before the meeting.

The German minister is however not the only little taste of the very media methods Greek ruler. Upon entering the Council building, Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the Commission, assénait without jargon that “the changing rhetoric of the Greek authorities has undermined confidence.” It must be said that the new government Syriza obviously has quite confusing ways. Before the German side clear refusal caused by its extension request letter sent Thursday, the Greeks thought Friday at a preposterous maneuver claim that the letter sent yesterday was not good, and send a new letter, much more accordance with German applications, ensuring that it was the right from the beginning. A trick worthy of a student, which the Greeks have finally given up, but has nevertheless been rumored by the German newspaper “Bild”.


Yanis Varoufakis denied this news on twitter Friday afternoon, but the level of distrust had reached a point of no return. To the point that he was ousted over Friday’s discussions. Jeroen Dijsselbloem was soon called directly Alexis Tsipras Athens, the Greek Prime Minister, to settle the details of the agreement, according to European sources. Merkel also intervened over the back of his finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, too ascended against Greece to reach the compromise. In small groups, the agreement has been developed, before being presented to all ministers of the eurozone finance most awaited white smoke away.

When they entered the meeting room around 19 pm, they had to review the text line by line that Europeans are desperately trying to write for two weeks. After a first round of tedious table, a second has removed misunderstandings. Athens got a respite before new negotiations, this time for a new plan of aid. So the next few months promise to be even difficult for Athens and the question of leaving the country in the euro area is expected to continue to float a while. For Jeroen Dijsselbloem has been nice to be welcomed that this meeting has allowed to rebuild trust, a line has been crossed. “I think we have reached a point where [the most reassembled country] will say to Greece:” If you really want to leave, and go well: “” warned before the meeting Edward Scicluna, the Maltese Minister Finance.

Anne Bauer and Renaud Honoré (in Brussels)

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