Athens' request for payment deferral rejected
Athens has asked the IMF for a deferral of further loan repayments, according to media reports. IMF head Christine Lagarde rejected the request as "unsatisfactory" on Thursday, at the start of the spring meeting with the World Bank in Washington. If the debt conflict leads to a Grexit it will mean the end of the EU, some commentators warn. Others see a radical restructuring of the Eurozone as Europe's last chance.
Grexit would trigger EU's downfall
Europe's stock markets were sent reeling on Thursday after the IMF's refusal to postpone Greece's bailout repayments. Investors are readying themselves for a Grexit, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes, warning of the consequences: "A Grexit would escalate the tensions within the Eurozone. It would endanger the entire integration process. It would strengthen all those who exploit the scepticism vis-à-vis Europe's bureaucratic institutions to campaign against the euro and even demand the dissolution of the EU: from Podemos in Spain, Syriza and the Alternative for Germany party to the Lega Nord in Italy and Ukip in the UK. … In the eyes of many Eurosceptics the spectre of a Grexit is not only useful for fighting EU bureaucracy but also for denying the entire sense of its political project."
Europe pinning hopes on Tsipras's resignation
If Athens doesn't get any new loans Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be forced to cut pensions and salaries, journalist Vesselin Yelev writes on the liberal-conservative news portal Club Z and suspects the other EU members are very much aware of this: "If the Greeks have to decide between pension and pay cuts and keeping their government it's clear that they'll opt for a new government that won't cut their pensions and salaries. But that can only be a government that has earned the trust of the international creditors. Tsipras has lost that trust. I believe Europe's strategy is not to throw Greece out of the Eurozone but to get the Greeks to throw Tsipras out of government. And if they don't, the Eurozone will still be able to get along fine without Greece."
Dismantle monetary union now
It's highly unlikely that a Grexit could solve the Eurozone's problems, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes, proposing an even more radical solution: "In the long term a kind of European economic government with an enormous budget and far higher transfer effects than Germany has experienced since reunification could help correct the imbalances [within the Eurozone]. But this path is blocked politically. Much more power for Brussels? The citizens of Europe won't go along with that. … The monetary union is dividing the Europeans. Insults are flying back and forth, the political climate has cooled. And Germany, as the commanding euro disciplinarian, is provoking more annoyance than anyone else even though it's acting with the best intentions. Consequently we should start looking at an option that has so far been ignored for understandable reasons: the dissolution of the monetary union, or at least its reduction to a group of homogeneous states. For Europe's sake."