September 9, 2011

Germany, Netherlands to Greece: Shape Up or Ship Out

Lack of economic progress spurring talk of banishment from euro zone

greek flagWhen it comes to money, Germany and the Netherlands aren’t kidding. Both nations are out of patience with Greece, although the message is divided, and both are beginning to talk about Athens being compelled to exit the euro zone.

The fact that Greece has missed economic goals set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) is the force behind their discontent, says Reuters. A Thursday report said that the possibility of Greece’s expulsion from the euro zone is beginning to be discussed openly, although it has been the subject of out-of-the-public-eye conversations for some time.

Despite a UBS paper that said chances of a euro breakup were near zero, as previously reported by AdvisorOne, this is not the first time Germany has voiced its opinion that Greece does not belong in the euro zone. Horst Seehofer, head of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), said Wednesday in a newspaper interview that Greece might be forced out.

Also, in a proposal published Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, "Countries which are not prepared to be placed under administratorship can choose to use the possibility to leave the euro zone." The country’s finance minister said that view was supported by both Germany and Finland. Finland has been insisting on collateralizing its contribution to Greece’s bailout and threatened not to provide the funding otherwise.

While Chancellor Angela Merkel denied that any such plans for an ouster of Athens from the euro zone were in the offing, and a European Commission (EC) spokesman said there was "no debate at all" about it, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Germany’s Parliament on Thursday that it was "up to Greece as to whether it can fulfill the conditions that are necessary for membership in the common currency."

In his speech, he also said, "A debate about a second program for Greece is, in view of the difficulties in the current program for Greece—paying out the next tranche—very premature."

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