In an interview with France 24 Sunday, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said Greece had presented all the necessary conditions to activate a bailout package, and that difficult austerity measures were unavoidable.
What is your reaction to Greece’s acceptance of a joint EU-IMF bailout package?
José Manuel Barroso: Greece has presented a solid and credible programme. I've just spoken to Prime Minister Papandreou on the phone to congratulate him on his brave decision. I think it's the only way Greece can rebuild confidence in the stability of its economy, and it's also the best way for the prosperity of the Greek people. The commission believes that the conditions have now been fulfilled to activate the European coordination mechanism for financial aid for Greece. We also want it make it clear that Greece's needs will have a positive and timely response.
Do you think that once this plan is in place it will reassure the markets and prevent contagion to Portugal and Spain?
J.M.B.: We think so, because Greece is the most difficult case, and now the other euro zone countries must show their determination to confront this situation. The other cases you mentioned are really different, and anyway their governments, like the Portuguese government for example, have already announced credible measures. That's why we think this is the best response to the situation.
The austerity measures imposed on Greece are difficult and Greeks have taken to the streets. Do you think these measures are realistic?
J.M.B.: It's Greece that adopted these measures, the Greek government adopted them, nobody forced measures on Greece. The Greek government made a request of Europe and of the International Monetary Fund, who are able to offer help on the basis of measures Greece has taken itself. They're necessary to re-establish confidence in Greece. Of course, we know they're tough, but there's really no alternative. A country can't always live beyond its means, so we have to take measures to ensure the prosperity of the Greek people.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken of toughening the rules to create a mechanism to exclude a member from the euro zone. Do you favour such a measure?
J.M.B.: What we need to do now is enforce the stability pact as it exists. Of course we can always reinforce it, and we want the stability and growth pact to be credible. We're going to make concrete propositions this month to reinforce the stability pact as it is, but I'm not going to speculate on other measures that would involve re-negotiating treaties.
Date created : 2010-05-02