Brinkmanship Returns to the Eurozone
Paris, Berlin Pressure Greece on Commitments.
Europe has returned to the signature brinkmanship of the debt crisis that brought its currency union close to collapse five years ago: France and Germany are again warning Greece it is putting its Eurozone membership at risk. With a Greek election looming this month, and a party hostile to European-imposed austerity apparently poised to win, French President François Hollande on Monday raised the possibility of Greece exiting the 19-member bloc—departing from the traditional stance that euro membership is irrevocable. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s economics minister and vice chancellor, warned that Berlin wouldn’t be blackmailed into offering concessions on Greece’s debt or the terms of the international plan that rescued the country’s finances.
The tough rhetoric reflects how the Eurozone could be about to fall back into an existential crisis similar to that seen in 2010, when the European Union had to bail out Greece, and later other countries too. That period was characterized by high volatility in financial markets and open bickering over how and whether to rescue struggling countries. A taste of both has returned in recent days.
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