Athens and the Eurozone seemed to have found a possible way to restart a constructive dialogue, when the Greek government was asked to present detailed proposals for a new bailout deal.
Nevertheless, at the Eurozone Summit, where Alexis Tsipras was pressed to explain how he wanted to proceed after the resounding victory in the referendum, the Greek leadership failed to present substantial bailout proposals.
The prospect of providing 7 billion euros ‘bridge loan’ and conceding a substantial debt relief encountered the negative reactions of the Eurozone governments. Failing, yet again, to strike a bail-out deal with Greece, European leaders imposed a 48 ultimatum to Greece to submit a convincing financial rescue proposal to its creditors in return for loans. Otherwise, Greece will face banking collapse and the start of its exit from the common currency.
Indeed, speaking at the Eurozone summit, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, declared that only few days remained to find common ground. “Failure would be most painful for the Greek people and would also have a geopolitical impact on the entire EU. Anyone who believed otherwise was “naïve”. “Our inability to find agreement may lead to the bankruptcy of Greece and the insolvency of its banking system … This is the most critical moment in our history…The final deadline ends this week.” states Donald Tusk.
While offering Greece another lifeline, European leaders have taken a hard line and have warned Athens that, without a structured plan for economic reforms, the only alternative is a Grexit from the Eurozone.
Although it sounds threatening, Grexit now appears to be the default position of most euro-zone leaders. Indeed, the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker revealed that Europe now has a “detailed” Grexit plan, suggesting a serious risk that Greece’s membership of the single currency is in doubt. “I am strongly against Grexit but I can’t prevent it unless the Greek government do what they need to do. We have a Grexit scenario prepared in detail; we have a scenario as far as humanitarian aid is concerned” , Juncker said.
In this view, EU leaders will hold emergency meeting in Brussels on Sunday to assess the status quo. Indeed, unless the Greek government proposes real reforms entailing more austerity as basis for a third bailout, the 28 governments, not just those of the Eurozone, will meet to discuss how to deal with the fallout from the Greece’s collapse.
Today Greek authorities are expected to present a formal application for a new rescue package from the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), the Eurozone bailout fund. This is the Greece’s first formal step towards requesting a financial aid to its 18 partners in the Eurozone. Nevertheless, European governments, especially Berlin, have firmly asked for long-term reforms. The German chancellor Merkel said that any financial aid for Greece depends on Athens’ commitment to long-term economic reforms. If the reform list is adequate and Greece takes some prior actions to enact first measures, the short-term financial aid could be provided to help Athens over its immediate funding needs.
From his side, Tsipras has promised that in the coming few days the Greeks would “redouble efforts in order to get a socially just and economically sustainable solution to the Greek problem without repeating the mistakes of the past.”
But the Greek crisis does not only affect Europe. Facing the firm position of the German Chancellor, the President Obama also stressed the importance of finding a solution to avoid Grexit, which risks to increase Russian influence in the eastern Mediterranean.
On Sunday Europe will decide whether Greece will get the third bailout programme or if it will leave the Eurozone. We expect Europe to make a step towards Athens and not to kill off the Greece’s future in Europe.