As Europe’s finance chiefs arrived in Brussels for crunch talks, the main focus was supposed to be on the euro zone’s debt riddled nations Portugal and Greece, but all the talk was of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in New York.
Despite the IMF chief’s detention in the US casting a deep shadow over events, ministers appeared set to approve Portugal’s euro rescue package.
‘‘I’m only happy that the discussions between the European Central Bank, the Commission and the IMF will be on-going. We have serious problems to talk about, notably the bailout for Portugal, the financing of Greece. That’s what we’re going to look at,’‘ said French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as she arrived.
Strauss-Kahn is seen as having played a key role in Portugal and Greece’s bailouts, but Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said business would go on: ‘‘The IMF, like many other organisations is sufficiently well organised to be able to temporarily cope with the absence of its boss.’‘
The European Commission, which negotiated the Portuguese bailout and earlier assistance packages for Greece and Ireland alongside the IMF, also dismissed suggestions that Strauss-Kahn’s arrest would affect any of the programmes.
European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said: ‘‘This shouldn’t have any impact whatsoever on the packages for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.’‘
Analysts said Strauss-Kahn’s absence was unlikely to have a discernible impact in the short term. That could all change, however, if Greece seeks more help.