ECB downplays third bailout for Greece

The European Central Bank (ECB) has downplayed talk of a third bailout for Greece and said no new decision will be taken before spring.

Greece’s current bailout, to the tune of €130 billion, runs out in 2014, with German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday (20 August) having said a third package will be needed after this date.

But German ECB board member Joerg Asmussen, during a visit to Athens on Wednesday, said there was no talk about the subject in his meetings with the Greek authorities, which focused instead on progress on the current programme.

“This is a decision taken in November last year, it is public knowledge, and there’s nothing new and there’s nothing to add,” he said.

“If we look at how things unfold, we will know not before spring next year if the country has reached a primary surplus on an annual basis,” Asmussen added.

A German government spokesmen on Wednesday also downplayed Schaeuble’s statements, saying there was “nothing new” in talking about Greece’s funding gap after the current bailout runs out.

He noted that no decision will be taken before next year.

“We have reached the middle of the current programme. It is August 2013, we will certainly have to look in mid-2014 at where we are, what the conditions are and whether the programme has been fulfilled,” Schaeuble’s spokesman, Martin Kotthaus, said in a press conference.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has put Greece’s funding gap for 2014-2015 at €10.9 billion.

Meanwhile, EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn told Finnish media that while a third bailout is not excluded, it is not the only option for Greece, pointing to an extension of debt repayment deadlines.

“We will also review Greece’s programme’s possible continuation and financing. The debt sustainability can be improved, for instance, by extending the loan periods,” Helsingin Sanomat newspaper quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

Πηγή: EUObserver