Agreement between Euro Group and Athens
After 17 hours of talks the Euro Group leaders reached a compromise with Athens on Monday morning. The dispute between the proponents and detractors of a Grexit had flared openly on the weekend. Some commentators see a growing rift between France and Germany after the talks. Others voice hopes that the EU will emerge strengthened from an agreement in this protracted dispute.
Greece driving a wedge between Paris and Berlin
The negotiations with Greece also dealt with the balance of power in the Eurozone, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments: "Germany in particular massively increased the pressure this weekend, and with serious threats: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble circulated a position paper in which the option of a temporary Grexit, with Greece leaving the single currency for five years, is mentioned. … For Greece, but also for certain euro partners, that went too far: 'Enough is enough,' said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Hardliner Germany has cranked up the pressure while France is siding with Greece and the countries of the South. This is the first time in many years that the two countries aren't pulling in the same direction on important decisions in the EU."
Emotions replace arguments
The tough negotiations on the weekend show that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the EU to reach workable compromises, the left-leaning daily Právo writes: "Instead of arguments, emotions rule the day. That makes it more difficult to find rational solutions. ... The problems are no longer limited to Greece's relations to the rest of the euro club. It's now down to a face-off between the north and the south, and above all between the heavyweights Germany and France. Paris's direct participation in working out the Greek reforms and their rejection by Berlin confirm that the two countries that hitherto formed the core - and motor - of the European Union are now tugging on opposite ends of the rope. ... A third bailout package represents an attempt at a compromise at a time when compromises seem no longer possible at all."
Europe needs its own financial government
The monetary union was flawed from the start and is badly in need of repair, the news magazine Der Spiegel warns: "There is no central European body that can lower taxes, raise state expenditures or take on debt during a downturn. The Eurozone is the second largest economic area in the world, but it has no means at its disposal for fixing trade cycle policy. ... Europe needs an economic and financial government that is controlled by Parliament and has the necessary instruments: it must have a budget of its own and the possibility of exerting influence on budgets of member states. Anyone who points this out in Brussels these days is passed off as naive. Because making a plea for more Europe - that's what it's called there - is the best way of getting voted out of office."
Only trust can hold the continent together
For the EU to have a future at all it must learn from the Greek debt crisis and foster new trust among its members, the conservative daily Le Figaro believes: "New playing rules are necessary, and they must be both more collegial and more binding. It would be wise to anticipate future crises by creating the possibility of an orderly exit from the Eurozone. A political lesson must also be drawn from events: the more Germany and France drift apart, the bigger the rift between their economies grows and with it the danger that Europe could collapse altogether. What really holds Europe together is trust. The example of Greece shows what sort of tremor takes place when it disappears. But that is nothing in comparison with the earthquake we'll face if the trust between France and Germany is lost."
Agreement will strengthen the EU
The negotiating partners in the Greek crisis seem to be aware of their historical responsibility, the liberal daily Jutarnji List writes in praise: "The Greek crisis has long since ceased to be a matter of 200 billion euros in debt, It is becoming the key question of the EU, which is facing a potential Brexit and a 'core Europe' scenario. And it calls into question the very essence of European integration that has been the most successful European project since the times of Charlemagne. … It's good that everyone has taken time to address this, that Tsipras has given Varoufakis the boot and proposed new reforms. The others should calmly examine the proposals and steer Europe between Scylla and Charybdis into calmer waters, because we face many other obstacles and dangers. Think of Ukraine and the IS. The EU leadership will hopefully gather within itself the strength and wisdom of Hercules to save the entire project."