Schaeuble tells Greece to push on with cuts

City A.M. Reporter
GREECE’S new government should stop asking for more help and instead move quickly to enact reform measures linked to previous bailouts, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said yesterday.

Schaeuble told Bild am Sonntag in unusually blunt language that Greece has forfeited much of Europe’s trust during the sovereign debt crisis, as reflected in an opinion poll covering the Eurozone’s four biggest nations.

“The most important task facing new Prime Minister [Antonis] Samaras is to enact the programme agreed upon quickly and without further delay instead of asking how much more others can do for Greece,” said Schaeuble, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Greece’s new three-party coalition government said on Thursday it would renegotiate the terms of the €130bn (£105bn) bailout deal that is helping the country avoid bankruptcy.

Greece wants a two-year extension to the 2014 deadline for it to cut its budget deficit to 2.1 per cent of national economic output, from 9.3 per cent in 2011. The extension would require an extra €16bn to €20bn in foreign funding.

“The ball is now in Greece’s court,” said Schaeuble. “It’s in their hands to win back the confidence of the people of Europe. They’re only going to accomplish that with concrete actions and deeds.”

The Ifop Institute poll of 4,000 people in Germany, France, Spain and Italy showed 78 per cent of Germans and 65 per cent of French people wanted Greece to leave the Eurozone, with 51 per cent in Spain and 49 per cent in Italy also backing a Greek exit. Large majorities in all countries surveyed expect Greece to never pay its debts.

“The poll shows two things,” Schaeuble said. “An overwhelming majority want the euro ... and secondly it shows how much trust Greece has forfeited among Europeans.”