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Greek rescue plan is 'guarantee of solidarity', says Eurogroup chief

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-03-27

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Eurogroup President and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker discusses a joint plan by the euro zone and the IMF to offer assistance to debt-saddled Greece.

“We won’t let Greece fail,” Jean-Claude Juncker told FRANCE 24 on Friday, a day after euro zone countries announced an agreement to provide economic aid to debt-ridden Greece. The head of the 16-member Eurogroup insisted that the deal handed Greece a “guarantee of solidarity”.

“I would like the markets to take note of this guarantee,” he added.

However, Luxembourg's leader said he believed Greece would "not need to use this package because it ha[d] adopted a real cut-back plan”.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou unveiled an austerity plan earlier this month that included a series of budget-reducing measures, such as a scale back of public worker’s wages, tax hikes and a freeze on pensions.

Under the terms of the EU agreement signed on Thursday (after a long and at times heated standoff), Greece is entitled to access financial aid from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if its austerity measures fail to re-balance the country’s economy. The rescue plan, brokered by France and Germany, is based primarily on bilateral loans and is supplemented by IMF assistance.

It also includes a commitment to strengthening fiscal discipline in the EU; a key condition set by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The 'common sense' fuel emissions tax

After the announcement of the accord, the common European currency rebounded slightly against the dollar to just over $1.33.

Earlier in the week, the euro hit its lowest exchange rate in 10 months.

Jean-Claude Juncker said he was not worried about the possibility of a domino effect as the result of the troubled financial situations of Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal. “I see no similarity between the situation in Greece and in these countries,” he said.

In his interview with FRANCE 24, Juncker also said he backed French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal for a Europe-wide tax on fuel emissions, or “carbon tax”.

”I support the idea that Europe needs to consider the introduction of a carbon tax at its borders”, Juncker said.

The French government announced earlier this week it was dropping plans for a carbon tax, claiming it could not be applied without the introduction of comparable levies across Europe on imports from countries reluctant to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.


Date created : 2010-03-27


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