Not ready for compromise

Auf Einladung des IFRI Bruxelles und des CERFA Paris habe ich in Brüssel einen Vortrag gehalten. Thema: „Europe’s Greek Crisis: Hang Together or Hang Separately? Perspectives on the Future of the Eurozone“. Hier meine Anmerkungen zur Frage, ob Deutschland während der Griechenland-Krise zu Kompromissen bereit war.

There was virtually no room to compromise, as the clash between the EU Commission and finance minister Schäuble in February showed. The Commission was advocating for softer conditions on the completion of the 2nd bailout, helped Mr. Tsipras on the set-up of a programme and welcomed it publicly. Only two hours later, Schäuble said now and forced Tsipras to back down.

Afterwords, Schäuble complained that not-authorised people like the chief of cabinet of Mr. Juncker, the German christian-democrat Martin Selmayr, had intervened. e.g. by sending tweets. This shows that Schäuble does not recognise the independence of the EU Commission and is not ready to compromise as soon as the interests of the biggest creditor, which is Germany, is at stake.

At the Euro summit in July, Schäuble did not compromise, neither. He pushed threw the two most controversial requests – a limited „time-out“ for Greece from the Eurozone and the setup of a trust fund worth 50 billion Euro in Luxembourg. Before, he had refused to follow the positive assessment given by the Troika, namely by the EC and the ECB. so basically it was Germany against Greece and the Troika, even if 14 out of 18 Eurozone ministers backed his hard stance in the Eurogroup

The same is true for Merkel. She was not ready to compromise, neither. It was the German conditions or Grexit. Even President Hollande did not have choice. Because he wanted to avoid a Grexit at any price, he had to swallow almost all conditions set up by Schäuble and Merkel. The German stance was so hard, that the final deal was about to break down for just 2,5 Billion Euro in the final round.

By the way, there was no real negotiation in the Eurogroup. In the end, it was just Tsipras and Merkel, with Hollande as friendly adviser to Tsipras and Tusk as mostly passive EU-representative. So Merkel did not tell the truth when she said that this was a typical european deal – it was a German deal.

After the deal. Germany was not ready to compromise with the IMF on the debt relieve, neither. The IMF had to back down on its call for a haircut, and the whole question was postponed. In order to please Germany, the Eurogroup decided to cap Greek dept servicing at 15 per cent of GDP. So the rules were changed, on German demand!

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