EU chiefs to stress their efforts to keep Greece in euro


EU LEADERS will tell their global peers in the Group of Eight industrialised countries that they will do all in their power to ensure Greece stays in the euro zone.

G8 leaders gather today at Camp David for a summit chaired by US president Barack Obama, a meeting that will introduce newly inaugurated French president François Hollande to the world stage.

Not for the first time since the eruption of the euro zone debt emergency more than two years ago are the global economic talks set to be overshadowed by the uncertain political situation in Greece.

Even though Greek opinion polls point to rising support for the anti-bailout Syriza party, there is some confidence in European circles that pro-bailout leaders in the country will align themselves against Alexis Tsipras in an attempt to secure a majority for the EU-IMF rescue plan.

One mooted option would be for the conservative New Democracy party and the Pasok socialist party to run joint electoral lists, which would be akin in Greek terms to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil running on the same ticket.

Another is the possibility of senior Greeks from the academic and civil society worlds aligning to seek a mandate to execute the plan and keep the country in the euro.

At the invitation of European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, the European members of the G8 were to speak via video conference last evening to prepare their approach to the summit.

The participating leaders were: German chancellor Angela Merkel; Italian technocrat leader Mario Monti; British prime minister David Cameron; European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso; and Mr Hollande and Mr Van Rompuy.

In addition to Mr Obama, they are due to meet Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian prime minister Dimitry Medvedev.

Both Mr Obama and Mr Harper have publicly urged European leaders to do more to overcome the crisis.

Mr Cameron said yesterday that the members of the single currency were at a crossroads and must either make up or face a possible “break-up” of the euro.

Moreover, British chancellor George Osborne said London was making contingency plans to deal with any Greek exit.

A European source said, however, that Mr Van Rompuy would make the case, if asked about Greece, that the EU was determined to ensure the country did not leave the euro.

Like many other leaders, Mr Van Rompuy will also emphasise Europe’s ongoing effort to develop a new plan to stimulate growth.

At the United Nations yesterday, Mr Barroso said the EU powers would honour their commitments towards Greece but expected the current and future governments of the country to fulfil jointly agreed conditions for emergency aid.