Grexit and Brexit

June 9, 2015

There is one day to go before Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is supposed to meet EU bigwigs in a push for a political agreement on cash-for-reforms. Oneᅠglitch, though: the EU has only just received Tsipras’s new proposal, one that was supposed to have been  handed over on Friday. Germanyメs Angela Merkel, Franceメs Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are not being given much time to prepare for their chat with the Greek leader.

Juncker, formerly as about as close to a Tsipras supporter as you could find in the EU, was  very annoyed at the delay. So much so that he refused a telephone call from the Greek  premier last week.

The Greeks have never been renowned for their discipline (although that, like reported laziness,ᅠis a very overblown stereotype). But their lack of speed in getting a new debt offerᅠto the EU was probably more than just the “manana without the urgency”  attitude that sometimes pervades the country.

Tsipras’ party,  Syriza,  means coalition of the radical left,ᅠand many of the members thereof have spent most of their lives hating the grey suits found in places like Brussels. Add that to a genuine and deep-rooted belief that austerity has crushed Greece and you donメt have much motivation to offer up plans that will end up keeping austerity going.

Something has to give, though, or Greece will find itself heading out of the euro zone and living off scrip. Hollande said publicly yesterday that the end of June was the final deadline for a pact. It has to be before that for EU countries to sign off on it.

On another EU exit front, Britain’s parliament is taking up the enabling legislation for an in-out referendum on UK membership. This is already a minefield for Prime Minister David Cameron, who had to backtrack yesterday on demanding his ministers toe the line. Only during the pre-vote negotiations with the EU, he now says.

The u-turn is a reminder of the underlying reason for Cameron calling the referendum in the first place – to keep unruly Conservative Eurosceptics from destroying his premiership as happened to two predecessors. There is bound to be a lot more of this, making Britain’s place in the world somewhat unstable until the actual ballot.

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