Europe must try to prevent Grexit, says Enda Kenny

Europe must not look back in 10 years’ time and realise it could have saved situation

 Enda Kenny: “It is important to keep in mind what Europe and the euro zone is about.” Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

Enda Kenny: “It is important to keep in mind what Europe and the euro zone is about.” Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

 

Europe must not look back in 10 years’ time and realise it could have prevented a Greek exit from the single currency but failed to do so, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Mr Kenny, while pressing the need for the Greek government to pass austerity commitments through its parliament to demonstrate the seriousness of its intent, said European leaders must not forget the wider picture.

Irish officials said the Government’s “red lines” were that Greece should stay in the euro but not receive any debt write downs, although it favours debt reprofiling, such as extending loan maturities.

Sources said the approach of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in recent days was in part influenced by concerns for the long-term viability of the currency union.

An exit by one country now could create a precedent for the medium and longer term: that countries in difficulty could leave the euro.

Bigger European picture

“It is important to keep in mind what Europe and the euro zone is about. We don’t want to look back in 10 years’ time and have a situation where this could have been saved but wasn’t.”

However, both Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan struck a similar note to other European leaders by saying the Greek government could build up trust with other countries by voting some measures through its parliament as soon as today.

Doing so would allow for further negotiations on a possible third bailout for Greece, Mr Kenny said. The Taoiseach also said the longer talks go on, the more expensive the solution becomes.

Open to a Grexit

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Mr Noonan, along with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble, was said to have attempted to keep discussions going at fraught times during Saturday evening’s meeting of euro zone finance ministers.

Sources said that the pair intervened after a group of ministers suggested there was no point in continuing because of the lack of trust in the Greek government.