Economy

Eurozone finance ministers met in Luxembourg on Thursday in the hope of reaching a deal that would see Athens receive the last €7.2 billion of the bailout aid. Hopes were quashed once again, however, as the failure to reach common ground extended the talks to Monday. The emergency summit was scheduled after EU leaders learned of the collapse of the Luxembourg talks. Next week’s meeting will take place only days before the debt repayment deadline is due. If Athens fails to reach an agreement with its creditors by then, it will risk defaulting on its debt and, very likely, exiting the Eurozone. This is a last-ditch effort to find a solution to the crisis

The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has postponed the vote scheduled for Wednesday over recommendations which the European Parliament will submit to the Commission. These will then be taken into account in negotiating the trade and investment treaty between the European Union and the United States (TTIP). The decision has caused an angry session in Strasbourg. The United Left groups and the Greens have protested strongly and have blamed postponement of the vote on the fact that the large groups were worried that approval of a favourable position over the current TTIP negotiations would be jeopardized. The political struggle has broken out over the limits on legal protection for

The tremendous policy over the future of Greece is heating up. The Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has submitted a proposal to break the current impasse in the negotiations, and the creditors have sent him their own proposal to unlock the funds and avoid Greece’s suspension of payments. In return, the government in Athens would have to face tough demands to reform the pension system and the labour market. The creditors’ agreement was cooked up last night in Berlin during the mini summit between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker, ECB president Mario Draghi

On 27 May the European Commission presented its draft budget of €143.5 billion for 2016. The proposal, which requires approval from the EU Parliament and EU member states, focuses on creating jobs and growth, boosting innovation, dealing with the migration crisis, and further strengthening the EU’s role in the world. Spending hawks in Brussels and across the EU seemed pleased with the fact that the budget remains at the same level as for the current year. Kristalina Georgieva, Commission Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources, submitted the draft for approval. The Commission adopted the proposal as the first step in a procedure

The European Commission has upped its growth forecasts for the Eurozone and the entire EU after noting the positive effects of the European Central Bank (ECB) debt purchase programme; cheaper oil prices, and the depreciation of the euro. However, this economic improvement will not be uniform across all the member states. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 19 euro members will be up this year by 1.5%, two tenths higher than estimated in February by the EU executive. For the 28 countries in the European Union, the Commission also revised forecasts upwards by one decimal point to 1.8%

Big businesses, international organizations, and academics attended in hundreds this week’s Summit in Riga to discuss ways to digitalize the current European single market. The Multilingual Digital Single Market Summit was held between 27 and 29 April and was inaugurated by the Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, who spoke of the importance of preserving Internet as a “neutral, single, and un-fragmented network of networks”. The Summit’s participants agreed to an open letter to the European Commission indicating that an infrastructure to address multilinguism is essential

At the Eurogroup meeting on Friday, 24 April, all eyes were on Greece. The embattled Eurozone country got hammered for backtracking on much needed fiscal reforms. Eurogroup officials stated that such measures are vital in helping the Greek government secure its debt repayments. Without the remaining €7.2 billion in the bailout package, Greece will run out of money in a matter of weeks.  The stark warning came as Mr. Varoufakis, Greece’s Finance Minister, tried to calm fears over his country’s ability to raise

In the European Parliament the head of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) for the Eurozone banks has committed herself to restraining financial institutions and closely monitoring the models they use to calculate risks. Danièle Nouy has given assurances that “we will be a demanding supervisor, however at all times we shall strive to make our action fair and impartial.” The SMM just published its first report that has overseen more than 6,000 banks in the region since last November.

At a public lecture that he gave at the London School of Economics (LSE) on 25 March, which happens to be the national day of Greece, the Governor of the Bank of Greece and former Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras clearly stated that “Grexit” is not an option at this stage. He went on to explain that Greece leaving the euro would not deliver significant benefits, at a time when the Greek economy has stabilized and is showing strong signs of improvement after years of reforms.

 

The Eurogroup needed just half an hour to deal with the package of measures presented by Greece in Brussels, pressurizing the Athens government to negotiate the technical issues seriously and in detail with experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund; the so-called “men in black” of the former Troika. Meanwhile, the Greek authorities do not rule out fresh elections or a referendum on the euro if negotiations prove fruitless.

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