BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU finance ministers and officials met on Tuesday to discuss a new treaty which aims to tighten fiscal discipline in the euro zone.
Following are comments after the end of the meeting:
”Greece must implement the agreed measures and reforms. And of course all Greek parties must agree to the measures and a new program, independently of the upcoming election.
”The contribution of private creditors is about reaching debt sustainability defined as 120 percent of GDP by 2020 as the heads of state and governments decided last year. In the current negotiations with private creditors we are still some way from that.
”Of course it is clear the IMF has to be part of a second package for Greece and so the talks will be continued in the next days on that basis.
”The (EU-IMF) troika sometimes has the impression that not everything agreed in the first program has been implemented. We told Greece clearly that what has not been implemented yet must be implemented. It strengthens the confidence that what is agreed is implemented.
“Without the commitment of all (parties) and without assurance that independently of the outcome of elections the commitment is valid, it would be irresponsible for me as finance minister to sign.”
”As long as we do not have debt sustainability, we do not have a new program.
“That (people saying this is my last offer) happens in every bazaar. You do not need to be impressed by that. At least I do not. I am a good negotiator but that does not intimidate me.”
ON EFSF AFTER S&P DOWNGRADE:
“(EFSF CEO) Klaus Regling said that the EFSF was fully able to act and anyway, the low reaction on capital markets show that we reacted properly with certain calmness. The most important was that we decided to get the ESM into place as quickly as possible.”
”It will be a lot more trustworthy because of course nothing convinces investors as much as when the euro zone member states have paid capital into a stabilization mechanism.
”We have the option in the treaty to pay in tranches more quickly but the head of the Eurogroup said it is clear all countries would have to agree to it. That may be a topic at the meeting of heads of state and government. In any case, we are ready to do it and we would welcome it if payments would be made more quickly.
“The upper limit has been set at 500 billion euros, that is no surprise. You know the heads of state and government will check that again in March but the EFSF is fully capable of acting and so is the ESM.”
Two tranches of the five that were initially planned would be useful this year.
ON “FISCAL COMPACT” TREATY:
”We are very confident that we will decide the fiscal compact much quicker than the summit in December had planned, when it set March as a timeline.
”There must be a tight link between the fiscal compact and the ESM treaty as that is exactly where solidity and solidarity come together, two sides of the same coin... That is sorted. In terms of national debt brakes, it is about a very concrete design, anchoring them in the national legal systems and a control of that by the European Court of Justice, also with the possibility of imposing fines.
“The agreement should be transposed into EU law as quickly as possible. I use every opportunity to convince my British colleague.”
”We are not over the hill but we have reason to feel confirmed in the path we have taken. Reason to be confident we are...solving the problems step by step, just like the chancellor keeps saying.
“The more the rest of the world... sees that we are implementing what is agreed and not just announcing things, the more we win back trust.”
Following are comments from earlier in Tuesday, before the talks began:
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE ON MONDAY‘S MEETING OF EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTERS:
“We made good progress but it’s decisive we finished negotiations on the ESM yesterday.”
“We’re not over the hill but the auctions in the first weeks of the year of Italian, Spanish and other countries’ debt show that we have reason to be confident that we’re not just on the right path but that we’ll be continuing on this path successfully this year.”
“The goal remains that one day in the not too far future we can put it into treaty law.”
GREEK FINANCE MINISTER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS ON PRIVATE SECTOR PARTICIPATION IN A GREEK BAILOUT:
“We have the green light from the Eurogroup to close the deal with the private sector in the next few days.”
DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER JAN KEES DE JAGER ON GREECE‘S FINANCIAL TROUBLES AND THE BAILOUT PLAN:
“We have to wait. Obviously Greece and the banks have to do more in order to reach a sustainable debt level. A sustainable debt level is a precondition for the next program.”
AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER MARIA FEKTER ON THE GREEK POLITICAL PROCESS:
“We will only be able to finalize (the bailout plan) positively when the governing party and the other parties agree.”
ON GREECE‘S FISCAL PROGRESS:
“They have agreed on measures but expenditure has not really decreased. We are not satisfied ... The political level in Greece must know that we expect them to do more.”
“I am skeptical, however, with regards to the implementation of reforms that should bring growth in Greece.”
“I expect the private sector will certainly make a significant contribution.”
“I think it would be possible to reach consensus on that.”
Reporting by Annika Breidthardt, John O'Donnell and and Robin Emmott