Eurozone exit means EU exit, says Commission

The European Union?s Lisbon Treaty, the bloc?s rule-book, does not provide for a country to quit the eurozone without leaving the European Union, the EU?s executive arm said on Thursday.

“The treaty doesn?t foresee an exit from the eurozone without exiting the EU,» said Commission spokeswoman Karolina Kottova at a regular media briefing.

Seeking to clarify, she later told Agence France-Presse that «the treaty does not provide for an exit from the euro, the treaty solely provides for the possibility of an exit from the EU.?

The Lisbon treaty, which came into force in December 2009, for the first time introduced an EU exit clause, but did not provide for an exit from the euro.

Asked for comment amid prospects of Greece quitting the single currency area, Kottova said «Greece?s place is in the eurozone and the instruments are in place, the agreements were concluded for this to continue to be the reality. But talks are taking place at the highest level in Cannes,? she added, referring to the G20 summit of leading world economies in the French Riviera.

A spokesman for Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn meanwhile said 8 billion euros in loans for Greece this month would be held back until Athens meets its commitments.

The loan, part of a 110-billion-euro rescue of Greece from May last year, ?cannot take place while there is no certainty on the Greek authorities? willingness to hold to pledges made just a few days ago.?

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou ?was among the leaders who took this decision on October 27? at a eurozone summit, he added.

He also said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) still needed to commit to its share in the loan. [AFP]