Commission backs Greek call for decision on aid plan
- March 31, 2020
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The European Commission has backed calls for EU leaders to take a decision on a financial aid plan for Greece at a summit in Brussels on 25-26 March.
The call came as the German government indicated it was open to asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Greece.
Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said it was “important that the EU in the course of next week comes to a more specific conclusion…about the European framework for coordinated and conditional action, if needed and required”.
Rehn, speaking to a special European Parliament committee on the financial and economic crisis, warned that Greece was “not yet out of the woods”.
The comments echoed what Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday. Papandreou, on a visit to Brussels, appealed to his EU counterparts to decide quickly on an aid plan, which he said was needed to reassure financial markets and make it easier for Greece to seek out new loans at more reasonable rates of interest.
Papandreou warned his country would go to the IMF if the EU did not agree on a precautionary aid offer of bilateral loans.
A German government spokesman in Berlin indicated today that Greece could go to the IMF.
“The German government does not rule out IMF support,” said Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesman for Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor.
Germany and other eurozone countries had earlier opposed calling in the IMF, arguing that eurozone members should be able to deal with Greece’s problems without outside help. The French government has been particularly opposed to using the IMF, partly because its head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, could stand against Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential elections in 2012.
EU leaders meet in Brussels on 25-26 March to discuss a strategy to boost growth and competitiveness by 2020. But the Greek economic crisis is likely to dominate the talks.
Greece is hoping any bilateral loans offered by the EU or the IMF would be at a lower interest rate than it currently has to pay to raise capital in the markets. Papandreou said on Thursday that having to pay interest of over 6% was hurting Greece’s efforts to reduce its budget deficit.
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