The eurozone’s existence would not be threatened if Greece was forced out of the currency bloc, European Union (EU) officials have claimed.
Greek party leaders will return to the negotiating table today to hammer out a new deal to rescue the beleaguered nation from disorderly default.
Prime minister Lucas Papademos and other politicians have to meet the demands of the so-called troika of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund to secure the country’s bailout funding.
This comes while a national strike is carried out across the country today as unions protest against the prospect of further austerity. Public transport, ports and tourist sites are among the areas affected by the 24-hour strike.
However, Neelie Kroes, a vice-president of the European Commission, told Dutch newspaper Volkskrant that there would be “no man overboard” if Greece exited the euro.
“What is a man overboard? It’s always said that if you let one country off or if it asks to get out, then the whole edifice collapses in. But that is simply not true,” she is quoted as saying.
Kroes also criticised the slow progress of Greek politicians in reforming the country’s public finances. “The Greeks have to realise that we Dutch and we Germans can only sell emergency aid to Greece to our taxpayers if there is proof of good will.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, the chair of the group of eurozone finance ministers, also denied that the bloc would be forced to break up with the departure of one member.
“The euro will outlive us all,” Juncker told German broadcaster Inforadio this morning.