(The Telegraph) Speaking to an audience at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium on Tuesday, Jean-Claude Juncker said a “Grexit” would leave the euro prey to forces who “would do everything to try to decompose” what remained of the monetary union.
“We should make sure that everyone understands that the economic and monetary union is irreversible … Grexit is not an option,” said Mr Juncker.
“If we were to accept, if Greece were to accept, if others were to accept that Greece could leave the area of solidarity and prosperity that is the eurozone, we would put ourselves at risk because some, notably in the Anglo Saxon world, would try everything to deconstruct the euro area piece by piece, little by little.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Juncker said the reference to the Anglo-Saxon world could be “understood in the sense of the markets and speculators,” rather than a reference to Britain specifically.
Greece has been struggling to meet conditions laid out by its paymasters in order to unlock vital funds it needs to stave-off bankruptcy. But with the country edging ever closer to a default on its creditors, fears have mounted that that it will soon become the first state to be forced out of the euro.
Analysts have warned that a Greek ejection would effectively turn the eurozone into a de facto exchange rate system, rather than the full-blown monetary union first envisaged by its founders.
Mr Juncker’s comments reflect anxiety that financial markets could then turn on other weaker member states, pushing up borrowing costs, provoking political crises, and forcing countries to return to their national currencies.
Following a meeting with Greece’s former prime minister Antonis Samaras on Monday, Mr Juncker praised the work of the previous government of Greece once again saying that ‘they were doing all the right things’, while ‘Greece’s new Leftist government had to make more concessions to creditor powers to stay in the euro’. ‘Eurozone is not just one democracy’, he added, so the decision of the Greek people has to be subjected to the wishes of the other (more powerful?) democracies.
“The world wants to know which way we are going. We should make sure that everyone understands that the economic and monetary union is irreversible, that the euro is a currency that is here to stay, which is not going to be abolished or suspended.“
Mr Juncker, who was appointed Europe’s new chief in last year, has been engaged in often acrimonious tug of war with the British government, over David Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership in 2017.
Mr Cameron attempted to block Mr Juncker, the man who allegedly set up shady tax cutting deals hundreds of multinational companies operating in Europe.
The former president of Luxembourg however conceded that Europe was willing to re-open the terms of its treaties. “I want a fair deal with Britain, but Britain is not in a situation to impose its exclusive agenda to all the other member states of Europe”, said the EU chief.
“I don’t want Britain to leave the EU, but I don’t want the EU to follow an exclusive British commandership.”