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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bang on the head

The EU's finance ministers, and a handful of heads of state, are meeting today in another attempt to come up with answers to the 'Greek question'. No details are expected to be announced, although an agreed declaration will give Greece a month to get down to business and deliver real deficit cuts (it's unclear what the EU will do if these cuts aren't delivered).

Apart from various wild swipes at the 'markets', EU leaders seem to be in disagreement over the involvement of the IMF in a possible Greek bailout. Sweden's able Finance Minister Anders Borg is one of the biggest proponents of a strong role for the Washington-based outfit, making several comments to that effect in the last week (in addition to refusing to rule out a role for non-eurozone countries in a rescue operation).

But Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg PM and arch-federalist who heads the group of eurozone finance ministers, won't have any of that. He apparently declared Borg's call for greater IMF surveillance and monitoring of Greece to be an "absurd" irrelevance "fuelling by Anglo-Saxon voices" seen as hostile to the shared currency. "If California had a refinancing problem, the United States wouldn't go to the IMF", he said.

Well, California to the US is not exactly the same as Greece to the EU - although in Juncker's world it probably should be.

As a side, according to Swedish news site Europaportalen, Juncker was seen banging Borg jokingly on the head with a copy of the Financial Times on their way in to yesterday's summit. When arguments aren't enough to persuade...

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