The European Central Bank has been playing down talk of a third bailout package for Greece.
Speaking in Athens, one day after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble bluntly predicted Greece would need a new bailout, ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen said he had not talked about that with the Greeks, and there would be a review to see if Athens needs more help next spring.
He told reporters: “We will consider additional measures, inter alia further reductions of the interest rate of the Greek loan facility and/or co-financing of EU structural funds. This is a decision, this is known, and if we look at how things unfold we will know not before spring next year.”
The theory was Greece’s economy would be stable enough, and its massive debt reduced to a manageable level, by next spring so it would to be able to borrow in the traditional way – from banks.
That is looking increasingly unlikely, but Brussels and the ECB insist it is still too early to be planning a third bailout loan.
Following on from Schaeuble’s comments, Germany’s finance ministry said the eurozone would take a fresh look at Greece’s aid programme in mid-2014 and that Berlin was not aware of any discussions on how to structure a new rescue package.
“We have reached the middle of the current programme. It is August 2013, we will certainly have to look in mid-2014 at where we are, what the conditions are and whether the programme has been fulfilled,” said spokesman Martin Kotthaus.
A Greek finance ministry official – speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity – said any further help for Greece would aim to cover its funding shortfall in 2014-2016 and would be much smaller than the previous aid packages, given the country’s limited funding needs for the period.
The International Monetary Fund has put Greece’s uncovered funding needs for 2014-2015 at 10.9 billion euros.