Greece rejects to cede economic sovereignty
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Greek PM Papademos says there is ‘total convergence’ among political allies on new austerity measures needed for a second bailout and debt cuts to avert default. AFP photoA Greek government minister has poured scorn on reported calls by Germany for Athens to surrender control of its budget, as Greece said it was close to a deal with its private creditors.
Greek Education Minister and former EU commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou rejected the notion as “the product of a sick imagination.”
Amid this latest controversy, senior Greek politicians and private creditors said they were close to reaching an agreement on writing down Greek debt to avert a looming default.
The idea that Greece might cede control over its budget was contained in a German submission to its eurozone partners revealed late on Friday by the Financial Times.
Under the radical German plan, a commissioner appointed by the other eurozone finance ministers would be able to veto budget decisions made by the Greek government.
The scheme emerged ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels today focused on a new fiscal pact.
“Budget consolidation has to be put under a strict steering and control system,” the Financial Times quoted the proposal as saying.
“Given the disappointing compliance so far, Greece has to accept shifting budgetary sovereignty to the European level for a certain period of time.”
But a Greek government source told Agence France-Presse that Athens had dismissed the idea out of hand. “Greece will not discuss such a possibility,” said the source.
‘Out of question’
“It is out of the question that we would accept it, these are matters of national sovereignty.”
Such a move would require a “change in (EU) treaties”, the source added.
The European source quoted by the Financial Times, said the plan would tackle the problem of Greece’s decentralized budget policy by transferring some powers to European institutions.
In Brussels, the European Commission also said there was no question of Athens surrendering budgetary control.
“The Commission is committed to further reinforcing its monitoring capacity and is currently developing its capacity on the ground,” said economic affairs spokesman Amadeu Altafaj.
However, such key decisions “must remain the full responsibility of the Greek government,” he added.
The government in Athens was “accountable before its citizens and its institutions,” he said.
“That responsibility lies on their shoulders and it must remain so.”
Greek leaders meanwhile held more talks on Jan. 28 with private creditors on a writedown of part of the country’s debt.
Greece is trying to wrap up a deal with private creditors in which they would accept a 50-percent cut on the 200 billion euros in debt they hold. Talks have so far stalled on the amount of interest to be paid on the remaining debt.
Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos led the 90-minute talks with Institute of International Finance (IIF) chief Charles Dallara ahead of the European summit today.