The chief executive of one of Germany?s most respected manufacturers and an adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for Greece to be kicked out of the European Union because it is an ?unbearable? burden.
?This state with its phantom pensioners and rich people that don?t pay taxes, a state without a functioning administration, has no place in the European Union,? Bosch CEO Franz Fehrenbach told Manager Magazin, according to a transcript of an interview to be published on Friday.
He is the latest in a number of senior German business figures to lash out at Greece over its role in the EU and a second euro zone bailout. A survey of over 300 managers in the magazine shows roughly 57 percent want Greece to drop out of the euro and reintroduce the drachma.
When asked what policymakers should do if Greece doesn?t leave of its own accord, Fehrenbach, who was not speaking in any governmental advisory capacity, replied: ?Then the EU must change its laws and expel it, as difficult as that may seem.? Such a move is almost certain not to happen, at least in part because it would require lengthy and complex treaty changes, but German support for the plight of Athens has been rapidly waning.
There is a growing lack of trust in Germany that Greek politicians are prepared to implement the reforms promised in exchange for loans that can prevent a disorderly default come March, when 14.5 billion euros ($19.04 billion) of debt matures.
Fehrenbach described Greece as a country in a ?dilapidated shape and (that) is an unbearable burden? for a European community based on mutual solidarity.
?We should offer it structural aid, a sort of start-up financing for the drachma. After the resulting devaluation, Greece might also be competitive once again,? he said.
Bosch confirmed the comments of Fehrenbach, emphasising that the CEO was not being personal about the Greek people.
Fehrenbach, who advises Merkel on industrial and business issues, said dropping Greece from the European Union would encourage others to behave.
?I believe that kicking Greece out would discipline other states with high deficits,? he added, when asked whether such a drastic measure might trigger an escalation of the crisis in Portugal, Spain or Italy.
Fehrenbach, the most prominent business executive yet to attack the Greek bailout plan, enjoys a standing seldom reserved for major CEOs in Germany due to the company?s image for being a respected corporate citizen.
Bosch is the world?s largest supplier of parts to the automotive industry and is also one of the biggest companies in Germany, with annual sales of over 50 billion euros.
German business angst about Greece and the euro zone crisis is increasing.
The chairman of Germany?s second-largest lender, Commerzbank?s Klaus-Peter Mueller, recently recommended the country surrender the ?shackles? of the euro since there would be no end to further bailouts as long as they could not devalue.
In January, Wolfgang Reitzle, the CEO of industrial gases producer Linde, said Germany may need to leave the euro zone itself since popular support for rescuing the currency ?will evaporate as soon as German citizens have to pay taxes of more than 50 percent to finance the other euro countries.? [Reuters]