On Monday morning, one week after the Greek referendum, the Heads of State and Government of the euro area reached a consensus in Brussels on key points of a new aid programme. In return Athens promised to implement extensive reforms. Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed the consensus as proof that Europe can act as one, rationally and with a sense of solidarity.
Monday morning saw the breakthrough following 17 hours of negotiations: the Heads of State and Government of the euro area reached a consensus on key points of a new aid programme for Greece. In return for another aid programme, the Greek Government has promised to implement far-reaching reforms. After a lengthy struggle, the decision was unanimous.
Parliamentary approval required
This is an important step along the way towards talks on a third aid programme for Greece. These can begin as soon as the parliaments of the Member States, including the Bundestag, have given them the green light.
Speaking on the fringes of the ongoing negotiations in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed this consensus: “Europe is showing that it can act as one, rationally and with a sense of solidarity.” The Minister praised the often‑demonstrated ability of the European Union to achieve a peaceful balance of interests and political compromise. He said that it was this quality that had enabled a peaceful and prosperous union to rise from the rubble of the Second World War in place of a divided continent, and that the close cooperation between Germany and France was still as crucially important now as it was then.
EU may emerge strengthened from the crisis
The German Foreign Minister stressed that a number of difficult steps still had to be taken before a new aid package could take shape, particularly in Athens, where work to rebuild trust was urgently needed. Steinmeier continued: “If we maintain our commitment to cohesion and a willingness to compromise, holding fast to our European basic principles, we and the European Union may emerge strengthened from this crisis, as we have done in the past.” Following the negotiations in Brussels, Chancellor Merkel highlighted “the great desire of the Greeks to remain a member of the euro”. She expects widespread support from the Greek parliament.
Cash situation remains critical
The success of the negotiations, however, does not offer a direct solution to the cash situation in Greece. The Federal Foreign Office’s current travel and security advice for Greece therefore continues to warn travellers that “anyone needing to use cash machines could face significant waiting times”. Moreover, “shortages” in the supply of cash to ATMs are not impossible. Anyone travelling to Greece is therefore advised to make sure they have enough cash with them before setting out and to check the Federal Foreign Office’s advice and media reports to keep up with developments. The travel advice is updated as and when required.