EU set for tough talks over Greek bailout
EU leaders meeting in Brussels are split over how to help struggling Greece weather its deep financial crisis. Europe's paymaster, Germany, is against the idea of a bailout and wants Athens to turn to the IMF instead.
It is a Europe in crisis that heads into the spring EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, convened by EU president Herman van Rompuy.
Heads of state and government from the 27-member bloc will discuss employment, the economy and climate change.
There is deep pessimism about the economy and disagreements over how to hold the EU together. The question on everyone’s lips is whether a bailout for Greece’s economy will even be discussed, as it struggles to make interest payments on its enormous public debts.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is against bailing Greece out and she made it clear she is against talking about it in Brussels because she does not want to confuse the markets.
The Greek side countered by accusing Germany of wanting a weak Europe to keep the price of exports down.
With an election looming for Merkel, a Greek bailout is a surefire vote loser.
Euro-skeptics defend Germany’s position.
“The idea now is that German taxpayers, having spent 20 years transferring money from the West to the East, should now be asked to start bailing out countries like Greece, and possibly not just bailing them out once, but doing it again and again. And perhaps that would extend to countries like Portugal, or Ireland, or Spain. I don’t think this is politically sustainable,” says Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage.
Christoph Horstel, a government and business consultant from Germany, believes Angela Merkel will win in her approach not simply to bail the Greeks out.
“Greece has cheated Europe over the years, by the way, with the full knowledge of Europe. Everybody knew that the figures coming out of Greece, even in entering the Eurozone in the first place, were wrong and not accurate, and their whole bookkeeping is wrong, and there is a lot of corruption going on and misusing of funds and things like that. And of course you can’t simply bail out such a country,” Christoph Horstel says.
Countries like France and Spain insist that the Greek debt must be on the agenda. But it seems that a bailout for Greece is a long way off if Eurozone members cannot even agree among themselves whether or not to discuss the issue.