Merkel ally fuels Greek aid row

Germany’s commissioner to the European Commission said on Saturday he expects a new bailout for Greece to amount to a little more than 10 billion euros, fueling a debate that could hurt Chancellor Angela Merkel in next month’s election.

Although EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger does not deal directly with eurozone debt issues, his comments are the most concrete about the likely size of any new bailout from a senior German politician since the issue burst into the election campaign last week.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble provoked a storm by saying more explicitly than before that Greece would need a third bailout, going much further than Merkel had done.

The government has since sought to play down his remark.

Oettinger, a member of Merkel’s conservatives, said he thought another package for Greece would be significantly smaller than the second bailout.

“It will be a manageable sum. I personally expect the figure to be a little over 10 billion euros. The program should cover the years 2014-16,” he told the Welt am Sonntag weekly.