ECB not convinced by Athens' reform course
After a meeting between ECB chief Mario Draghi and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis the ECB has decided that Greece can no longer use sovereign debt as collateral for bank loans. With its decision the ECB has made it clear that it will defend the euro, some commentators write approvingly. Others criticise the bank for following Berlin's course and further escalating the crisis in Greece.
Guardian of the euro lives up to its name
With its decision the ECB has made it clear that it stands by the monetary union, economist Francesco Giavazzi writes in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "The widespread sympathy the new Greek government arouses, the lenience with a country whose social conditions have been dramatic for years, threaten to lead us into a trap. It could lead us straight to the end of the euro. ... The strategic goal of all those who are being accommodating towards Tsipras was to put the ECB in checkmate. They wanted to force the central bank into openly breaching the European treaties. Indirectly they wanted to block the quantitative easing, the bond-buying programme announced by the ECB on January 22. This would have rendered the euro's parachute ineffective and put the very architecture of the monetary union at risk. But since yesterday the opponents of the euro have been forced to see that Frankfurt remains the guardian of the single currency."
ECB forgetting its real job
The ECB can hardly be described as independent after its decision, the web portal The Press Project writes: "The ECB's stance is political and identical with the German stance. For a central bank, and the central bank for all the members of the Eurozone including Greece, this stance is irresponsible. The decision clearly has nothing to do with the solvency of the [Greek] banks given that they recently passed the ECB stress test and have been examined and adequately capitalised. ... So why limit borrowing? The ECB's answer is clear and indeed politically motivated: the revision of the new bailout programme for Greece hasn't concluded yet. And the ECB's decision doesn't fit in with what a central bank is supposed to do: its job is to act as the lender of last resort in the event of short-term needs."
Athens' plan is reasonable
After discussions with Mario Draghi, Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is due to present his plan for reducing Greece's debt burden to his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble today, Thursday. Among other measures the plan foresees coupling interest payments to economic growth. A reasonable suggestion, the business paper Äripäev believes: "Such a regulation would benefit taxpayers in Greece and in Germany and other euro countries. Greece would be able to continue servicing its debts without running the risk of exceeding an acceptable level. And it would forestall Greece's exiting the monetary union, which would endanger the European economy and financial system. Above all the new government's reforms are directed against cartels, corruption and the rich who so far have managed to avoid paying taxes. And as opposed to the established parties, Syriza is clear about the fact that it has no connections with the oligarchs."
Central bank pours oil on the fire
The ECB's decision will have far-reaching consequences for Greece and reveals the stubbornness of the EU's crisis management system, the liberal-conservative daily Jornal de Négocios criticises: "Innovative ideas to solve the enduring euro crisis? That's the last thing we need! They prefer to stick stubbornly to the rigid and undemocratic model. Even if it means more costs for the taxpayers or makes the lives of the Greeks even more difficult. And even if we continue to wait for prosperity while the far left and far right win more and more votes in Europe. This is the ECB's message. ... No one really wants to solve the euro crisis. It's all about demonstrating that their own model is the right one. And that the rules must be observed. ... The heads of the central banks have just poured fuel on the fire in the Eurozone. They have escalated the crisis in Greece."