ECONOMY

Greece must stick to reforms, says Schaeuble

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble has to support or oppose Greek plans to exit the country’s bailout at the end of the year, focusing instead on the country’s need to continue reforming.

«Greece must resolutely continue to implement the agreed reforms. In its own interests. Being reliable creates confidence – also on the markets,» he said when asked if Greece should ditch hopes of exiting its bailout program by the end of the year.

A sell-off in Greek bonds last week has led some investors to question whether Greece would indeed stick to a plan to emerge from the program by the end of this year.

Schaeuble’s comments came in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag, during which he said criticism of the German government on insufficient investment or lacking competitiveness was justified, but that Berlin was working on these at both the national and European levels.

“We must invest more and improve our competitiveness. We must get to work on this — quickly and in a concrete way,» Schaeuble told the paper.

“It will not all happen overnight. But we must work on certain things now, like the European digital union, the energy union or the sustainable maintaining of our infrastructure.”

Hit by the effect of crises abroad, a weak euro zone and limp domestic demand, Germany has slashed its growth forecasts to 1.2 percent in 2014 from 1.8 percent and to 1.3 percent in 2015 from 2.0 percent.

But Schaeuble, who is known for his tough line on budget discipline, insisted Germany would not achieve growth on credit and that he still expected to reach a balanced budget next year for the first time since 1969.

“We must keep to what we have promised,» he said.

[Reuters & Kathimerini]