Not everyone in the European corridors of power agrees with the “flexible” viewpoint of Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Greece meeting its pledges: In interviews on Wednesday the heads of the European Stability Mechanism and the Eurogroup were adamant that Greece must continue on the reform path and not go back on its promises.
On Tuesday Moscovici had claimed in Athens that while agreements must be adhered to, there could be some flexibility.
“Going back is really not an option,” Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno told Naftemporiki newspaper, responding to a question on the planned pension cuts. “I expect Greece will not deviate from its previous commitments and at the same time will use the range of political choices stemming from the exit from the program in a clever and responsible fashion,” he added.
Referring to Greece’s prospects of accessing the capital markets, Centeno said the key factor is sticking to fiscal discipline: “Market access is not an automatic blessing at the end of a program. You earn the confidence of the investors after several [bond] issues before the conclusion of a program and then build it up through reliable policies after the program.”
ESM head Klaus Regling warned that if Greece interrupts its reform course it will be punished by the markets as well as with the suspension of the debt-easing measures agreed.
In an interview with German daily Handelsblatt, Regling stressed that Athens is aware that “it will be under the permanent monitoring and assessment of the markets and the investors, just like the other countries that were in a program. What they want to know is if their money has been well and securely invested in the long term.”
Meanwhile former economy minister Evangelos Venizelos poignantly wondered in a radio interview on Athina 984 on Wednesday whether his former Eurogroup colleague Moscovici and the European Commission in general ought to ponder “if the encouragement and feeding of political buccaneering and extreme nationalist populism in member-states is in the Commission’s competences.”