Euro states to take tougher line on Greece

City A.M. Reporter
GERMANY and France yesterday vowed to take a hard line with Greece in exchange for financial support as doubts emerged over whether a €45bn (£39.2bn) aid package was sufficient to prevent a default.

Greece bowed to intense pressure from financial markets on Friday, requesting funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in what would be the first bailout of a member of the 11-year-old single currency bloc.

The debt-saddled country has announced billions of euros in austerity measures, including tax hikes and public sector wage cuts, but must now agree additional steps to satisfy the EU and IMF, and ensure the aid flows.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned Greece that a tough restructuring of its economy was “unavoidable and an absolute prerequisite” if Berlin and the EU were to approve the aid Greece has requested.

“The fact that neither the EU nor the German government have taken a decision (on providing aid) means the response can be positive as well as negative,” Schaeuble said.

“This depends entirely on whether Greece continues in the coming years with the strict savings course it has launched. I have made this clear to the Greek finance minister.”

Schaeuble’s French counterpart Christine Lagarde promised to hold Greece accountable for “unsuitable economic policies” that pushed its 2009 budget deficit to 13.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and its debt to 115 per cent of economic output. She described the aid package as a “cocktail of indulgence and great strictness”, adding that Greece’s partners would closely monitor its progress in restoring order to its creaking finances. “We will (release the aid) according to their needs and in the case of default on repayment, we will immediately put the foot on the brake,” Lagarde said.

Germany and France are due to provide about half of the €30bn in aid the EU has tentatively pledged for Greece. The IMF is expected to put up the remaining €15bn.