We’re on the brink, warns Greece ahead of EU summit

By James Kirkup
Telegraph UK

Lucas Papademos said that unless the country’s international backers agreed to a new bail-out, Greece would be unable to pay off its loans and be forced out of the eurozone.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels tonight amid growing concern that Greece will fail to implement the austerity measures its international backers are demanding as a condition of the latest package of financial support. Without that bail-out, Greece will be unable to repay €15 billion of loans due in March.

Amid doubts about Greek willingness to cut spending and raise taxes, Germany has suggested that a European commissioner should take effective control of Greek fiscal policy to ensure the country accepts austerity. Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek finance minister, rejected that plan, saying it would undermine Greece’s “national identity and dignity”.

Philipp Rösler, the German economy minister, insisted that some external control over Greek policies had to be considered. “If the Greeks fail to do this themselves, the leadership and monitoring must come in a stronger way from outside, for example via the EU,” he said.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, suggested that the German plan was a threat to European democracy.

“If you fiddle around with democracy because you don’t like quite what it does, then you open the door to those who say, ‘Why democracy at all?’ ” he said.

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