ECONOMY

Van Rompuy: Contingency plan is not a priority

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said ?contingency? planning for a possible Greek exit from the euro area ?is not a priority.?

?The first priority is to make sure Greece remains part of the eurozone whilst it keeps its commitments,? Van Rompuy told reporters on Friday in Ljubljana, Slovenia. ?We are considering different scenarios, but the contingency plan is not a priority,? he said.

?The priority is that Greece remains in eurozone,? Van Rompuy said. ?We are confident that the Greek people will take the right choice and decide to remain in the eurozone.?

However, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said EU officials are ?prepared for all eventualities? regarding Greece.

?You need to be prepared and we are prepared for all eventualities,? De Gucht told reporters in Brussels on Friday. At the same time, ?I am saying in the most robust terms that we must make sure that Greece stays in the eurozone. But can you expect that we wouldn?t have the slightest idea what could happen if ever there was something dramatic with Greece? We are supposed to be responsible people.?

Last week, after De Gucht was quoted in a newspaper as saying that officials in Brussels were working on contingency plans for a possible Greek exit, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said, ?That is not a scenario we are preparing for.?

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, a former finance minister, said on Friday in Paris that the potential costs of a Greek departure are being studied by ?technical staffs? while there ?are no structured talks or negotiations? on that scenario.

?That?s their job to study the consequences of various eventualities,? Reynders said. [Bloomberg]