Correspondent's Choice

This story about financial aid to Greece was published by EurActiv on 5th May 2010.

While hundreds of demonstrators took the streets in Greece yesterday (4 May) and international stock and bond markets sank, the European Commission tried to reassure investors that the multi-billion euro loan package, approved last weekend to help Greece tackle its debt problem, will be able to go forward without the approval of every eurozone member state.

Greece won eurozone finance ministers’ approval on Sunday to draw €110 billion in bilateral loans over the next three years from eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (EurActiv 03/05/10).

But eurozone member Slovakia will only vote on financial aid for Greece after the June national election, the country’s prime minister said, insisting that Athens must do its homework on spending cuts before receiving any Slovak cash (EurActiv 04/05/10).

Left-wing Prime Minister Robert Fico is seeking re-election on 12 June and is being pressed by the right-wing opposition party SDKU to refuse aid to Greece.

“We say an ultimate ‘no’ to this aid,” said SDKU leader Iveta Radicova on Monday, just after the ministers’ meeting.

Not all member states needed

Speaking at a regular press briefing on Tuesday (4 May), Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, spokesperson for EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, suggested that other eurozone countries could make their share of the overall eurozone loan available without waiting for Slovakia.

“It is not about all member states being ready by mid-May with their disbursement. I think that’s clear. Some Parliamentary procedures go beyond mid-May. It can be the case. It doesn’t prevent the mechanism from being used or money from being disbursed.”

Along the lines of Sunday’s agreement, Greece will receive 30 billion euros from the euro zone in 2010. Athens will get the first funds before 19 May, when it has to pay back 8.5 billion euros in debt.

But the statement adopted by finance ministers on Sunday does mention that “Parliamentary approval, needed in some member states prior to the release of the first tranche, is expected to follow swiftly.”

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