European Union Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici shut down talk of contingency plans to prepare for the failure of negotiations with Greece.
After a bad-tempered meeting with the euro region’s 19 finance ministers, Moscovici urged officials to focus on ways to keep Greece in the monetary union rather than measures to contain the collateral damage should the effort fail.
“There is no plan B, there must not be a plan B,” Moscovici said in a television interview in Riga, Latvia, Friday. “Everybody here is working for the same purpose, which is Greece staying in the euro zone.”
During the closed talks, one minister urged the bloc to consider drawing up a so-called plan B to mitigate the fallout if negotiations with Greece collapse, three people with knowledge of the conversation said asking not to be named because the discussion was private. While that call received no support during the meeting, ministers are talking informally of the need for a contingency plan, a fourth person said.
Greece’s anti-austerity government, elected in January with a pledge to renegotiate the terms of a 240 billion-euro ($261 billion) rescue, has to present detailed proposals for revamping its economy to European creditors for disbursement of the next bailout loan portion or risk running out of cash.
In February euro-area finance ministers said they expected a list of reforms by the end of April. Progress toward achieving that is “much too slow,” Moscovici said.
Running Out of Money
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the euro-region finance ministers’ meetings, was asked at a briefing after the meeting whether there might be an agreement on aid at the group’s next scheduled gathering on May 11.
“I don’t dare to say whether there is a kind of result then,” Dijsselbloem said. “It seems too quickly for me given the current situation. It can be achieved but it’s starting to become theoretical.”
With Greece running out of money and stalling over commitments to reform, investors are looking to officials for reassurance that the fallout from a break up of the currency union would be contained.
“I cannot peer inside the minds of this or that colleague but I know there is no plan B,” Moscovici said. “Even if the situation is moving too slowly, even if there is a great deal of work to be done ahead of us, we all share the same view: we want Greece in the euro zone.”