Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

It looks like Italy will be the only "serious" ally of Greece today. Photo taken from last Tuesday's ECOFIN. From left to right: Mr Pier Carlo PADOAN, Italian Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance; Mr Yanis VAROUFAKIS, Greek Minister for Finance. (EC TVnewsroom, 17/02/2015)

It looks like Italy will be the only “serious” ally of Greece today. Photo taken from last Tuesday’s ECOFIN. From left to right: Mr Pier Carlo PADOAN, Italian Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance; Mr Yanis VAROUFAKIS, Greek Minister for Finance. (European Council TVnewsroom, 17/02/2015)

Today everyone’s eyes are fixed on the extraordinary Eurogroup meeting which is taking place in Brussels. This is simply put one of the most important gatherings in the Union’s history because one of its member states is under the “dilemma” of staying within the Eurozone by signing an extension agreement or exit and face imminent bankruptcy. This country is no other than Greece which is expected to be having both “allies” and “enemies” during this session.

The Greek government represented by the Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis expressed its will and need for an extension of the loan agreement or more precisely of the “Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement”, by sending yesterday an official letter to the president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The latter found Greece’s request adequate to convene a meeting with the rest of the Finance Ministers of the Eurozone in order to discuss this matter more thoroughly and conclude.

Greece’s proposal

It was only yesterday that the Greek government managed to officially state (in written) its purposes and reply to the rest of the European countries that were arguing in the last EU Summit and Eurogroup that they had no clue about Greece’s intentions and what exactly they really wanted. Yanis Varoufakis wrote a very “delicate” and “well-prepared” letter to Jeroen Dijsselbloem saying among others:

“The Greek authorities are now applying for the extension of the Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement for a period of six months from its termination during which period we shall proceed jointly, and making best use of given flexibility in the current arrangement, towards its successful conclusion and review on the basis of the proposals of, on the one hand, the Greek government and, on the other, the institutions”.

Support or NO support?

The decision of the President of the Eurogroup to convene a meeting where the Greek request will be discussed didn’t come unanswered by the German government. The German Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble rushed to reject the proposal characterising it as “trojan-horse” and inadequate since it does not secure that Greece will follow the necessary reforms.

However, the telephone call between Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras which lasted about an hour was enough to calm things down and reveal that both sides seek for a beneficial solution for Greece and Eurozone. Furthermore, the Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy and Vice Chancellor of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, stated that the request of the Greek government is a step towards the right direction and triggers further negotiations.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister is in favor of a friendly “Grexit” if Greece doesn’t sign and commit to implement structural reforms. The same policy applies for Finland which is clearly supporting Schäuble’s positions.

On the other hand, the Minister of Economy and Finances of Italy, Pier Carlo Padoan, is going to vote for Greece’s stay in the Eurozone in today’s Eurogroup. It was announced by the Italian government that Mr Padoan will go to Brussels for the meeting despite the fact that there is a crucial discussion about the country’s labour reform. This shows clear understanding of the importance of the situation by the Italian government and reveals also the very good relationship between the two countries.

The second biggest economy in Europe, through its Prime Minister Manuel Carlos Valls Galfetti, said before the meeting of the 19 Finance Ministers that there is still hope and a solution is more likely to come for Greece. The statements of the European Commission and more specifically of its president Jean-Claude Juncker were similar mentioning that the Greek request was a “positive sign”.

Last but not least, the U.S. remains neutral but is pointing the finger to Athens to find a commonly agreed solution for everybody’s sake.

National parliaments the last word

The outcome of the meeting, if positive, is not the final one since it must be brought to the national parliaments, who will have to approve it. Thus, countries such as Finland and Germany have to take some time to vote for the issue of the extension of Greece’s loan agreement. This is something that must be taken into serious consideration by the representatives of each EU member state during the negotiations because time runs out on 28 February; the last day of the current bailout programme for Greece.

Grexit: a possible outcome or something that will be avoided at all costs?

GREXIT” is not out of the question in today’s meeting but is very difficult to happen since it is not just one or two countries that decide for Greece’s fate but 18. This fact makes a negative outcome even more unlikely, because it is quite hard to imagine that common sense will not prevail in the end; even Germany should have some of that.

But even in the case that there will be no result during this Eurogroup and Greece will face a dead-end, then the last “word” will probably be said and addressed to the Greek citizens, the majority of whom don’t want an exit from the Eurozone and won’t allow their country to go bust.

All in all, Eurozone is now facing one of its most historical moments; save a member state from bankruptcy or let it exit and change the way we think of this “union”.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Trade Barriers Report: EU continues to open up markets outside Europe in midst of rising protectionism

EU recovery and long-term budget: Leaders must do better

Economy and living standards of Gaza ‘eviscerated’ by crippling blockade – UN trade and development report

168 hours left for MEPs – ECOFIN Council to deliver a Banking Union

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “We need more Schengen but reinforce control!”, France’s Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron emphasises from Davos

DR Congo: Restore internet services as ‘a matter of urgency’, urges UN expert

Parmesan cheese on shelves in Italy (Copyright: European Union, 2014 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Daniela Giusti)

CETA at risk again: Italy says it won’t ratify EU-Canada trade deal over product protection fears

If Macron defies Britain about the banks, Paris and London to clash over ‘La Manche’

How to get ageing populations to invest in their health

In post-COVID Latin America, investment in infrastructure can bring back tourism – and rebuild the economy

This Canadian company transforms plastic waste into building materials

Eurozone closer to a deflation – stagnation trap

UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

Reinforcing EU border security: Visa-exempt travelers will be pre-screened

UN chief calls for ‘green and clean’ development in message for Africa Industrialization Day

Court of Auditors: MEPs back five members

Switzerland fast-tracks emergency aid for small businesses weathering COVID-19

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

Attack on Saudi facilities risks dragging Yemen into ‘regional conflagration’: UN Envoy

The EU to fight cross-border tax evasion with a toothless directive

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

China in my eyes

We are stronger than this pandemic (COVID-19)

Will satellites destroy our view of space?

US resolution to condemn activities of Hamas voted down in General Assembly

Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

Can the EU assume the mantle of global leadership?

Global Compact on Refugees: How is this different from the migrants’ pact and how will it help?

Is Germany closer to Russia than the West? Nord Stream II and Iran count more

8th Euronest Assembly: the future of relations with Eastern partners

5 ways for business leaders to win in the 2020s

Trade in digital services is booming. Here’s how we can unleash its full potential

Businesses, governments and consumers to implement a more climate-friendly approach to #BeatPlasticPollution on World Environment Day 2018

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

Sweden is fighting loneliness by housing older and younger generations together

‘World’s deadliest sea crossing’ claimed six lives a day in 2018: UN refugee agency

In wake of ‘collapsed’ agreement, new wave of violence threatens millions in Syria’s Idlib

The ‘abuse of food relief in Yemen’ must end now

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

Listen to the future – how 26 youth-led organizations are supercharging the UN’s Global Goals

Yemen: Committee brings warring parties to the table in Hudaydah, builds on ceasefire

Healthcare workers’ safety: a forgotten necessity

5 things you might not know about forests – but should

2021-2027 EU Budget: €378,1 billion to benefit all regions

Key economic forum in Russia: New technology a ‘vector of hope’ but also ‘a source of fear’ says Guterres

Ireland: prepare now for rising fiscal pressures, external risks

Bilbao’s city parks offer brain-training games for the elderly

Primary Healthcare: Back to the Basics

In Mozambique, it’s ‘a matter of the heart’ says Guterres, lauding the cyclone-struck nation’s ‘undeniable moral authority’

Egypt: The road to hell paved with western advices for democracy

UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

COVID-19 has disrupted cybersecurity, too – here’s how businesses can decrease their risk

Three ways the world must tackle mental health

Water reuse: Commission proposes measures to make it easier and safer for agricultural irrigation

China’s Ambassador to the EU Zhang Ming wishes to Brussels a Happy 2019 Year of the Pig

A Sting Exclusive: “Cybersecurity: Why consumer products must be looked at urgently”, by BEUC’s Deputy Director General

These countries have the most doctors and nurses

Commission’s report shows that targeted investment and robust digital policies boost Member States’ performance

More Stings?

Advertising