A solution on Greece by June 15 ‘in Europe’s best interest,’ Le Maire says

“We are making every effort so that there is a solution on the issue of Greece’s debt at the Eurogroup on June 15,” French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters on Monday. The French minister made the statement as he was leaving the Maximos Mansion, following a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to discuss the upcoming Eurogroup meeting.

After outlining France’s proposal for a “flexible” mechanism that might achieve this, Le Maire noted that an agreement by June 15 was in the best interests of both Greece and Europe. Despite the complexities, he added, “what will allow us to reach an agreement is primarily an awareness of the efforts that have been made by the Greek government and to include this flexibility mechanism that we propose in the final communique of the Eurogroup.”

For the last 10 days, Le Maire said, he had repeatedly had contact with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem in order to arrive at an agreement.

“It is a complex negotiation but I believe that each side is doing what has to be done to enable us to reach an agreement on June 15,” he said. “There are still 48 hours left for us to all work together, to build an agreement and I believe we can reach an agreement if each of us makes one more effort.”
Again praising the difficult reforms passed by the Greek government, Le Maire noted that the Greek people had made great efforts and adopted many harsh decisions on fiscal issues.

“I believe all must have an awareness of the reforms that have taken place and are continuing to take place,” he said, stressing that an agreement was essential for Greece.

An agreement on June 15 was also essential for the Eurozone, he added, since this would lead to stability. “It allows us to move forward with completing Eurozone integration, which is a major goal of Emmanuel Macron and a major political target set by Macron in the pre-election period,” he said.

Le Maire said the French proposal envisioned the adoption of a mechanism that will review a series of parameters regarding the performance of Greek economic growth; a mechanism sufficiently flexible that it could accommodate the sometimes very different forecasts of Greek economic growth arrived at by different organisations.

“This mechanism will allow us to revise some figures on Greek debt on the basis of realistic growth results…on the basis of the mechanism that defines the criteria, how growth is unfolding, we will have the capability of reviewing other data as well,” he said.

Asked whether such a mechanism is likely to be adopted, given the position of the German side, Le Maire noted that each side had its own legitimate interests. “I am here to defend the French and European interests,” he said, noting that an agreement on June 15 was in the best interests of Europe.

According to government sources, the meeting between Tsipras and Le Maire focused on technical aspects of the negotiations ahead of the next Eurogroup. They agreed that the solution was in an automatic mechanism for adjusting the medium-term debt relief measures linked to growth, the sources said, while also discussing the future of Europe.