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Stand-off between IMF, Germany and Greek parties over second Greek bailout; IMF pushes for losses in Greek restructuring

02 Feb 2012

European officials suggested last night that a deal on the voluntary Greek restructuring was only ‘hours’ away, however no final agreement was reached due to remaining differences between Germany and the IMF as well as amongst the Greek parliamentary parties. The IMF continues to push for official sector Greek creditors (Eurozone/ECB) to take write-downs. However, this has been roundly rejected by Germany which argues for greater austerity in Greece, which the IMF argues is not achievable. The LAOS Party, junior member of the Greek governing coalition has warned more austerity could lead to a “social explosion”. One option being discussed by eurozone officials is for national central banks to submit their holdings of Greek bonds, around €12bn held in national investment portfolios, for the voluntary restructuring. Eurozone finance ministers will hold an emergency meeting next Monday to discuss the Greek situation, according to DPA.

Kathimerini reports that, according to National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), 160,000 jobs will be lost in the Greek commerce sector this year alone, leading the ESEE to warn that Greece will soon be in a “condition of absolute poverty”.

The FT reports that Spain will pose the first challenge to the new eurozone budget rules as the slowdown in growth means it is almost certain to miss its deficit target for this year. Separately, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos is due to present his plans for reforming the banking sector this afternoon, which are likely to include legislation forcing Spanish banks to hold up to €50bn in extra provisions to cover potential losses from defaulting real estate loans.

The WSJ reports that, under heavy pressure from the banking sector, EU regulators are considering loosening planned requirements on which assets can be held as liquidity buffers to protect banks in a crisis. The latest ECB lending survey, released yesterday, confirmed that European banks continue to reduce lending to households and businesses, while imposing harsher requirements on those that they do lend to. Separately, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that the UK would face a two year recession if the eurozone broke up.

Belgium was officially in recession at the end of last year, according to the GDP measures from the last quarter. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits China, Die Welt reports that Chinese experts have said that it is unlikely that European governments will be able to count on China purchasing their bonds on a large scale without further reforms.
FT FT 2 Telegraph WSJ EUobserver Kathimerini WSJ 2 FT 3 WSJ 3 Les Echos IHT El País Expansión Expansión 2 Cinco Días Les Echos 2 Les Echos 3 Liberation Reuters Welt FAZ BBC Telegraph 2 Daily Mail FT 4 Nouvel Observateur FT 5 WSJ 4 EurActiv FT 6 Irish Times EUobserver 2Independent Independent 2 ECB survey FTD DPA Bloomberg Les Echos 4 IHT El País Expansión Expansión 2 Cinco Días CityAM: Chown Times: Kaletsky

Bundesbank President: Fiscal treaty “not a huge success”
FTD reports that Bundesbank President Jens Weismann has criticised the new fiscal treaty agreed at Monday’s summit of EU leaders for not going far enough, arguing that “The requirements for national fiscal rules still leave considerable room for maneuver, and there is no control at the European level to what extent they are actually observed… this raises lingering doubts at the very least".

Meanwhile, the head of François Hollande’s presidential campaign, Pierre Moscovici, confirmed that the socialist candidate does not accept the validity of the treaty, claiming that “a treaty which isn’t yet ratified has not got any legal value”, reports DPA. Swiss news agency Romandie reports that in an effort to assuage Hollande, the German minister for European Affairs, Michael Link, announced that new growth-boosting measures could be added to the treaty at the next EU summit, scheduled in March.

Separately, Süddeutsche reports that Czech President Vaclav Klaus has revealed that he refused to sign the treaty on the grounds that “This treaty is based on the presumption that that people are not sufficiently clever and that everyone in Brussels is cleverer than them, and this is not the case”.
FTD DPA Irish Independent Irish Times EUobserver Les Echos Conservative Home: Lilico FAZ: Mussler

Die Welt reports that the EU Commission has criticised the German government’s planned child care subsidies due to be paid to parents from 2013 on the grounds that they undermine the principle of female participation in the labour market.

DPA reports that a year on from the ‘cash for amendments’ scandal uncovered by the Sunday Times, the investigation of the four MEPs involved by the EU’s internal anti-fraud and corruption agency, OLAF, is nearing completion.

Sarkozy: Hollande and Le Pen “cannot win” French Presidential elections
Le Parisien reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is yet to put himself up for re-election, commented yesterday that “the socialists cannot win with their programme. All those who have been sure of winning an election have always lost it”. Hollande, he argued, had “played all his cards”, while Marine Le Pen had made an “error of analysis” in courting the “far-left”. He added that his current position was “not bad, given that I’m not yet a candidate.”
Le Parisien Le Monde 

EU reverses its position on biofuels
EurActiv reports that Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Change, has warned against biofuels after a draft Commission impact assessment indicated that the greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels may exceed those of fossil fuels. Separately Bloomberg reports on a study by Malcolm Fergusson, the former head of climate change policy at the UK’s environment agency, showing that EU policy on biofuels will cost EU consumers €126 billion.
EurActiv Bloomberg 

Almunia to modernise EU rules on state-aid
European Voice reports that Joaquín Almunia, EU commissioner for competition, will today announce proposed changes to the EU's state-aid rules that will allow for quicker decision making. Separately the FT reports that Almunia has warned against the creation of companies as ‘European Champions’, something that puts him at odds with Michel Barnier, the French commissioner overseeing financial regulation, who led opposition to Almunia’s veto of the merger of Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext.
European Voice FT

European Voice reports that EU Budgetary Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski has warned of a possible €11bn shortfall in the EU’s 2012 budget due to accrued entitlements in structural fund payments that must be settled by the end of the 2007-13 budgetary cycle.
European Voice

Les Echos reports on its front page that China will this year take over France’s long held position as Germany’s most important trading partner.
Les Echos

The BBC has admitted to receiving nearly £3 million in grant money from the European Commission and local authorities over the last four years, reports the Telegraph.

New Europe reports that the European Parliament has finished discussing the draft resolution on Serbia’s accession to the EU, and is likely to grant the state candidate status in March.
New Europe

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