With every day that passes, the likelihood of a Greek exit from the Euro intensifies. The crisis has been waxing for months – years even – and this week, as the 30th June loan repayments deadlines creep ever closer, leading European Union figures have expressed concern as to Greece’s Eurozone future, and indeed the future of Greece within the EU.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, on Thursday issued a firm statement urging for a settlement to be agreed swiftly, but also that the Greek government has had unprecedented help from other EU partners; has Greece come to the end of its tether with the EU? The Greek government has already rolled an overdue repayment of €300m onto the existing 30th June deadline and, if Greece were to default, Germany would be set to lose millions of euros as the aftershocks ripple through the single currency market.
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, this week drew a clear line in the sand, stating that were the Greek government to miss the €1.6bn (£1.1bn) loan repayment on 30th June, they would automatically default. Such a default would trigger massive shocks both within Greece and throughout the rest of the global financial markets; Société Générale – a French banking and financial services company – predicted in 2012 that the up to 50% of the Euro’s value would be wiped off, were Greece to make a ‘disorderly exit’ from the Euro.
On Friday, the European Central Bank hastily agreed to emergency access to funding for the Greek government. Although the amount has not been publicised, it appears to be far less than the request put forward by the government and might only be enough to cover deposit withdrawals over the coming weekend.
From here, Greece has a few options; default on the overdue IMF/ECB loans and risk removal from the Euro (and possibly the EU); agree to a reform bill that features more austerity in the works, or lastly, no reform bill and both Greece and the EU find common ground to divert the risk of a Greek exit and the resultant destabilisation of the Euro.
Tempers have been running high around Greece over the last week with widespread anti-austerity but also pro-EU marches happening in cities across the country. ECB creditors are to meet on Monday 22nd June to further assess and decide the fate of Greece’s membership within the Euro, following the rushed settlement on Thursday, providing enough financial support for the Greek government to last over the weekend. Ongoing stability beyond that point remains questionable, due to the announcement that Greek banks may well remain closed on Monday to further prevent mass withdrawals of deposits held by citizens and organisations alike.
The future of Greece within the Euro remains a waiting game with big losers on both forks in the road. Greece will likely to be forced to accept further austerity measures if the country retains the Euro. On the other side of the coin, Germany – the largest contributor to the Eurozone – will face severe consequences if a Grexit is not swiftly avoided.
There is all to play for over the coming days.