Open Europe Blog

Update 2.15pm:  At least two more European Commission spokespersons have denied Commissioner de Gucht’s claim. After Mina Andreeva (see below), Olivier Bailly tweeted,

The European Commission denies firmly being working on exit scenario for Greece. The Commission wants Greece to remain in the euro area.

Then Simon O’Connor tweeted,

We’re not working on the basis of a scenario of Greek exit.

So it’s settled then…

Here’s our original blog post:

It’s Ascension Day today, and the EU institutions are closed. Still, someone at the European Commission felt the need to say something on Greece.

In an interview with Belgian daily De Standaard, EU Trade Commissioner, Belgium’s Karel de Gucht, said,

“A year and a half ago maybe there was a risk of a domino effect. But today, there are [people] in the European Central Bank, as well as in the Commission,  working on emergency scenarios if Greece shouldn’t make it.”

He also added,

“A Greek exit does not mean the end of the euro, as some claim.”

De Gucht’s comments were not appreciated by his colleagues at the Commission, however. Within hours, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva moved to deny the existence of any such plans, saying,

“[The European Commission] is working on scenarios to keep Greece within the eurozone, not to make it leave.”

According to the spokeswoman, Commissioner de Gucht was speaking “in his personal capacity”. This isn’t the first time Karel has annoyed colleagues by letting the cat out of the bag (well, on a potential Greek exit, the cat wasn’t exactly in the bag). He was the first one to admit

“We knew that Greece was cheating [on its public accounts].”

That was in May 2010.

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