EU official blasts German, Dutch stance on Greece

8th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A top European Commission official assailed Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries for not giving more support to the bailouts of Europe's problem economies.

The official also rejected the notion that Greece, unable to service its debts or fully implement sweeping reforms demanded by its bailout partners, could be expelled from the eurozone, as suggested by top Dutch officials

"There are member states, in particularly some of the most powerful -- Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Austria -- who feel that they don't have this kind of problem," said Joaquin Almunia, a vice president of the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union.

Such countries feel "they don't need to make an additional effort to compensate the lack of resources of the countries who have the most difficulties to reduce imbalances," said Almunia, who is in charge of EU competition issues.

Almunia, speaking to a group of business executives in New York, called for sustaining momentum on reforms in the eurozone, saying that without "stronger political authority" in the economic and monetary union, "the lack of trust between the countries will grow more and more."

"We need to be ready to share part of our sovereignty to solve the problems and tackle the challenges of the economic and monetary union."

Asked about Netherlands Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager's threat of the "ultimate sanction" of expulsion for Greece if it cannot reform, Almunia branded the idea a "hypothesis" that is not under consideration and could "never happen."

"Those who think that this hypothesis is possible just do not understand our process of integration," he said.

"European integration is the only option."

Earlier Thursday in The Hague, De Jager said: "If a country doesn't want to comply with the requirements, then there is no other option than to leave it (the eurozone)."

"If you can't stick to rules, you have to leave the game," he said.

But he added that such a move would be a "last resort."

© 2011 AFP

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