Grexit risk still exists, former EC chief Jose Manuel Barroso says


Former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday that the danger of Grexit still looms but that it will depend on the moves of the Greek government.

Speaking at the Concordia Europe Summit in Athens, which was moderated by the executive director of Kathimerini, Alexis Papachelas, Barroso noted that Greece is no longer a systemic challenge to the Eurogroup, as it was in 2011-12, and that states and international markets are now better prepared to meet such challenges.

The current non-executive chairman at Goldman Sachs International added that several officials in the European Union are of the belief that the euro currency would be better off without Greece, and that some would even go as far as paying Greece to leave the bloc.

These officials, he said, are not confined to Germany, as there are others in other countries who subscribe to much harsher views than the ones expressed in Berlin with regard to Greece.

For his part, Barroso said he was steadfast in his opposition to such views and expressed optimism about Greece, highlighting its contribution to Europe. This, he added, should be acknowledged by its partners.

With negotiations between Greece and its creditors still troubled ahead of the June 15 Eurogroup, Barroso also said that the prevailing view in Europe now is that the next Greek government will back the reforms the country needs, and that will be a positive factor for growth and the country’s future.

This, he added, along with the fact that growth in the eurozone has already surpassed that of the US, will bode well for Greece. The Greeks deserve this, he said.

Asked to give his evaluation of the Greek crisis, he acknowledged some delays by the Commission and his own mistakes, but insisted that the Commission did not have the tools to do several of the things needed to deal with the situation.

He also referred to the difficulties arising from the fact that all the analyses made were based on data sent to Brussels by individual national statistic services of each EU member-state.

Referring to Turkey, Barroso did not mince his words, saying that it cannot become a member of the EU because neither it or Europe are ready. The latest developments there, he said, are of great concern, adding that a country must be demoocratic in order to join the EU.