Thursday, April 7, 2016

Merkel Coalition Readies for Greek Deal as EU Crises Multiply

by Birgit Jennen


April 7, 2016

German lawmakers say they expect Greece and its creditors to reach an accord to unlock further bailout funds, avoid a debt cut and meet Chancellor Angela Merkel’s demand that the International Monetary Fund take part in the aid program.

In a turnaround from last year, when mainstream German politicians lined up to advocate booting Greece out of the euro, lawmakers and officials in Berlin now say they’re counting on a deal. While the slow pace of talks has raised speculation of another Greek budget crunch in July, Germany policy makers see the Greek dilemma as eminently solvable compared with strife over migration and the threat of the U.K. leaving the European Union.

“The EU has so many issues it can’t agree on these days, including the refugee crisis,” said Ingrid Arndt-Brauer, a Social Democrat who chairs the German lower house’s finance committee. “At least on Greece one can hope for an agreement. We’ve always managed to reach one in the past.”

Underpinning that view is Merkel’s open door to limited debt relief and her determination to avoid destabilizing Greece as it struggles at the frontline of Europe’s refugee crisis. After Merkel and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde discussed Greece in Berlin on Tuesday, the chancellor said negotiations are “on a very sensible path” though more work was needed for an agreement.

“As in the past, there will ultimately be a deal with the IMF on debt relief, without calling it debt relief,” Carsten Linnemann, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union who voted against the latest Greek aid package in July, said in an interview.


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