Brussels, 9 October 2012
Press speaking points by Vice-President Rehn at the Eurogroup – Luxembourg 8 October
I have one simple point to make today, especially to those who have doubted Europe's determination to take bold action in the face of this crisis.
You may recall that two and-a-half years ago, when Greece first found itself cut off from the markets, we had absolutely no instruments at our disposal to intervene and provide conditional financial assistance. We began then with the ad-hoc Greek Loan Facility, followed by the temporary European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Facility, with its broader range of instruments. And today, in fact, nine months earlier than initially foreseen, we are marking the entry into force of the European Stability Mechanism, which is an important achievement.
The launch of the ESM is a milestone. The euro area now has at its disposal its own robust and permanent firewall with an extensive toolbox for market stabilisation and the potential to make use of greater flexibility in decision-making.
Concerning individual euro area member states, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Cyprus, I can endorse what has been said by Jean-Claude and Christine.
I welcome the fact that the Eurogroup approved the Fifth review for Portugal and the subsequent disbursement. I also welcome the fact that the Eurogroup recognised significant progress made both in Spain and also in Greece. Concerning Greece, the review of the programme continues and is making progress. I believe that there is the necessary willingness on the part of the Greek authorities to agree the measures needed to set Greece's public finances back on a sustainable path. The Commission will continue to work intensively together with the ECB and the IMF, of course in cooperation with the Greek government in order to bring this review to a successful conclusion shortly.
In Madrid last week I made the point that I was well aware how hard the present moment is for the people of Spain. The same is true of Portugal, Greece and many of our other member States where macro-economic imbalances had been building up for many years by the time the crisis hit these countries and their people. Correcting these imbalances was something that could not be avoided.
Even if policies are guided by the need to maintain social fairness, as the Commission has always insisted, the adjustment was always going to be difficult and often painful. Yet we should recognise and welcome that fact that this rebalancing is now well under way, because it is the necessary foundation for a lasting recovery in both growth and employment.