Some of you may have noticed the millions of cubic metres of praise for Greece’s austerity efforts pouring out of various EU capitals, Brussels and Berlin last week. Such orchestrated stuff is usually the preface – a ‘softening up’ process – prior to eurozone leaders cutting a deal of some kind. Last week Greeks bad guys, this week Greeks good guys, next week compromise.
News coming in from Athens this morning suggests that the last bit of this process fell into place last night, when the Troika and Greek leaders led by Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras (above) reached a final deal on the austerity measures necessary to release the next E31bn tranche of bailout monies.
As predicted here six days ago, I also understand from The Slog’s Brussels mole that the Commission still hopes to slip some additional aid and debt forgiveness under the radar along with the agreed 31bn aid package. And in turn, “The message from Brussels is to finish with the Greek issue as soon as possible and take advantage of the good climate towards Greece,” said a correspondent working for private Greek TV station Alpha last night.
The same source also believes that the Troika will submit its report on Greece to Eurozone finmins this coming Wedneday, and that there will be ‘an extraordinary meeting’ of the Eurogroup forum two days later. Stournaras denied all knowledge of such a meeting.
Enormous pressure has been exerted by the French to get this deal moving. In turn, they have laid great emphasis on immediate and direct expenditure to recapitalise Greek banks. As the Emporiki giveaway showed last week, this French desire is far from philanthropic.