LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers and officials met on Monday to discuss the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bailout fund and the economic situation in Greece.
Following are comments after their talks:
“Every member can request a collateral deal, but there is a price to be paid ... that is why it is unlikely that any other country than Finland will make such a request.”
EUROGROUP CHAIRMAN JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
It is our common view that we have to increase the efficiency of the EFSF ... we are considering that.
“We welcomed the additional measures taken in Greece ... they are a strong signal that Greece will implement the measures.
“We also urged the Greek government to agree with the Troika for additional consultation to close any gaps by 2014.
“The Troika report will not be ready until the November 13 which is a tentative data for next Eurogroup meeting, I have canceled the October meeting.
“Greece will be in a position to meet its financial obligations. I would assume the Eurogroup will take a decision in October and Greece.
“No one advocated default for Greece ... or an exit of Greece from the euro area, I have to firmly deny all rumors regarding a Greek default.
“We made good progress ... especially on recapitalization of financial institutions ... we also had the first discussion on how to maximize the EFSF.”
“When I asked if another country would like to join, nobody said yes.”
“There has been a slippage this year .. what is essential is that Greece will have to meet or exceed its target in 2012 with regards to its fiscal deficit, and it must improve its track record in 2011.
“Greece’s measures are clearly going in the right direction ... but we have to do our job properly and continue our reviews.”
Speaking ahead of the meeting:
“We are now facing three major risks: stalling growth and stress on sovereigns and on our banking systems.
“On Greece, Greece is working hard to meet fiscal and other conditions agreed ... now the Troika is pursuing its mission in Athens as we meet here
“I want to reiterate that full compliance with the agreed conditions is necessary to receive the funds from Europe and its partners. I also want to say, concerning the collateral issue and the deal, I note positively the euro zone agreement on collateral, it is a balanced solution. I am satisfied that this issue is off the agenda.
“We need a more flexible and more powerful EFSF as a firewall to contain contagion, once certified the new EFSF we will have access to new tools of intervention ... but that will not be enough ... we need to optimize the resources of the EFSF we need more firepower to provide more effective firewalls to protect against contagion and if necessary to provide for our banks.”
“The French and Belgian governments are behind their banks, whether that is Dexia or another.
“To help banks and to help, for example French and Belgian savers, the first thing to do is to help Greece.”
“I hope we will convince some of our colleagues to move forward in approving enhanced capacities for the EFSF.
“The measures (taken by Athens) are absolutely exceptional... Now, we have to look at the measures taken in Greece and tell our colleagues that instead of looking to Greece they should look to their national parliaments and vote on the texts approved in July...
“So I hope that today, or in the next few days, we will take the decision to disburse the next tranche (of money) to Greece. Greeks are making important efforts and the euro zone should also do its job and vote to approve the texts.”
“Speculating about it in advance makes no sense.”
“We will talk about the implementation of the EFSF reform. Only 10 percent has been used ... for programs for Greece and Portugal so far. There’s no point in speculating now.”
“We have all committed to quick implementation. But that’s just the way it is in democracies... We hope with confidence that all those responsible in Slovakia know of their responsibility and live up to it, that they decide not just for themselves but for everyone in Europe.”
“We have a very important meeting at a critical juncture today. We are facing three main challenges: stalling growth, stressed sovereigns and still vulnerable banks.”
“It is essential to intensify fiscal consolidation and take decisions on growth-enhancing structural reforms... It is important that all member states meet their fiscal targets.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t say yet. I’m sure we will discuss it today. Can we find a solution is impossible to say. We are trying to find the kind of solution that everyone can accept.”
“We don’t want to increase the capacity of the EFSF. (Leveraging) is the one issue we’re going to discuss tonight.”
“This crisis is also tomorrow’s crisis, this crisis is about trust in the euro. It goes way beyond Greece ... so we must have much stricter budget oversight so the markets can see we are serious about the euro.”
ON FRANCO-BELGIAN BANK DEXIA:
“With regards to Dexia, there is no need for special worry. We are following that situation closely.”
“I think the Greek authorities are making good progress and I hope that will be reflected in the (EU/IMF) Troika’s final report.”
“I think it would be useful for the EFSF to have more capacity, not a larger fund per se, more flexibility and more capacity. We will be deciding (the issue of leverage) among ourselves later today.”
“(Greece is taking) all the necessary difficult measures in order to fulfill its obligations toward its institutional partners. The new budget, the budget for the new year, is very ambitious, our target is to present for the first time after many years a primary surplus of 3.2 billion euros. This procedure of fiscal and financial consolidation for the last two years is very strong, very fast, but we are now ready to present results.”
“Greece is a country with structural difficulties, but Greece is not the scapegoat of the euro zone. Greece is a proud country. We have the possibility and the capability to go ahead, despite a deep recession — a cumulative recession of 12 percent of our GDP in the last three years.”
Reporting by Annika Breidthardt, John O'Donnell, Robin Emmott, Julien Toyer and Jan Strupczewski in Luxembourg; Ben Deighton and Charlie Dunmore in Brussels