EU 'should control' Greece's budget
Germany is proposing that Greece should temporarily cede sovereignty over tax and spending decisions to a powerful eurozone budget commissioner before it can secure further bailouts, an official in Berlin has said.
The initiative is being discussed among the 17-nation currency bloc's finance ministers because Greece has repeatedly failed to fulfil its commitments under its current multi-billion pound lifeline, the official said.
The proposal foresees a commissioner holding a veto right against any budgetary measures and having broad surveillance ability to ensure that Greece will set its priorities on repaying its debt as scheduled, the official said.
Greece's international creditors - the so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank - are currently negotiating another 130 billion euro rescue package for the heavily indebted country.
But German news magazine Der Spiegel cited an unnamed troika official as saying that Greece might need a total of 145 billion euros in its second bailout package amid the country's prolonged and sharp recession.
The German proposal is likely to spark controversy in Greece. A powerful budget commissioner would further diminish the political leeway of Greece's government, just as politicians there are gearing up for an election set to take place this spring.
Greece is currently locked in a twin effort, seeking to secure a crucial debt relief deal with private investors while also tackling the pressing demands from its European partners and the IMF for more austerity measures and deeper reforms.
Despite two weeks of intensive talks, a debt relief agreement with private investors has yet to be reached. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos resumed the talks with representatives of international banks and other private institutions in Athens on Saturday.
The debt writedown is meant to reduce the country's debt-to-GDP ratio from 160% last year to 120% in 2020, or about Italy's current level, and it is a vital condition for the second bailout package.
The European Commission said later that "executive tasks must remain the full responsibility of the Greek government, which is accountable before its citizens and its institutions".