France taking initiatives for reaching agreement on Greece

European Union/Greece – Communiqué issued following the Council of Ministers’ meeting

Paris, 1 July 2015

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Minister of Finance and Public Accounts made a statement on the financial situation in Greece.

Over the past five months, France has championed a double imperative: respect for democratic change, but also respect for European rules.

Discussions were conducted to reach an agreement, which France wanted to be comprehensive and lasting. This required five points to be covered:

- a reasonable fiscal trajectory, allowing for improvements to be made in the organization of public accounts;

- balanced reforms to meet the fiscal targets and carry out deep reforms to the Greek economy;

- the financing necessary to give the Greek state and economy room for manoeuvre in the next few months and beyond;

- availability of resources through the European instruments to promote growth by boosting investment;

- finally, the prospect of discussions with the European partners about the treatment and sustainability of the Greek debt.

This agreement was under discussion when the Greek authorities unilaterally decided to break off the process under way and call a referendum.

France respects the Greek government’s decision.

However, it is taking initiatives so that an agreement can still be reached. Intensive contacts with all those involved in these negotiations are under way to arrive at a solution which addresses the principles above.

Even though the Euro Area is now more solid than it was a few years ago, thanks to the mechanisms it has created for itself, giving Greece a clear prospect of a future in the Euro Area is a necessity for Greece and also for continuing to move the European project forward./.

European Union/Greece/restricted meeting – Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Paris, 29 June 2015

This morning I held a restricted meeting [of the Council of Ministers] devoted to Greece. Greece has decided to interrupt the negotiations that have been under way for weeks, which focused on a comprehensive, sustainable plan and concerned the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund but especially all the Euro Area countries.

I regret this decision, because we were very close to an agreement.

Greece has also decided to consult the people in a referendum. That is its sovereign choice. It’s democracy and the Greek people’s right to say what they want for their future.

The challenge will be crucial: it’s about whether the Greeks want to remain in the Euro Area. That’s their place, in my eyes, but it’s up to them to decide, or to take the risk of leaving it.

We know there are still a few hours before the negotiations on extending what’s called the Greek support programme are definitely closed. If the Greeks decide on it, I’d like these negotiations to resume, but it’s up to them – and them alone – to say so.

France – this was the purpose of this morning’s meeting – is ready and willing, always ready and willing for the dialogue to resume, to resume today, to resume tomorrow. Today there’s still the chance of an agreement; tomorrow it will depend on the Greeks’ response to the referendum they’re being offered.

France is in favour of Greece staying in the Euro Area. France is always ready to act, but it can do so only if there’s a common desire to achieve a solution.

A great deal of time has gone by. I, the French government and [Finance] Minister Michel Sapin in particular played France’s proper role to the full. I did so completely coherently with our partners – Germany in particular – and with all the Euro Area institutions and countries, because it was always France’s responsibility to encourage a solution.

Today there are uncertainties, particularly in Greece, even though the European Central Bank has made sure to provide the liquidity essential for the functioning [of the banks] up to the time of the referendum. There are also uncertainties which may exist on the markets, but I want to be clear on this here: very important measures were already taken several months ago to consolidate the Euro Area – resulting in banking union –, to ensure more cohesion in the Euro Area and more resources to cope with any speculation.

Finally, the French economy is no longer in the same situation as it was four years ago. Four years ago, there was the Greece crisis, the fear of substantial chaos. There was already substantial chaos on the financial markets. Today, the French economy is robust, much more robust than four years ago, and has nothing to fear from what could happen. France isn’t acting out of fear or concern. It is acting because it is its responsibility to do so. Because we must ensure that the Euro Area, that the Europe we instigated, can continue on the basis of responsibility and solidarity.

Solidarity is always possible when there is responsibility. France will continue to give prominence to this idea of Europe in the coming days.

Thank you./.

Published on 06/07/2015

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