Developments are taking place at a very fast rate. We asked our Brussels e-briefings host Richard Werly to comment on the Greek referendum.Here is what he had to say:
Contrary to the situation in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland (ie countries rescued by the EU), Prime Minister Papandreou never managed to achieve national unity in Greece. The conservative party, though largely responsible for this mess when it was in power, continues to fight its austerity efforts. Calling on the people, in a way, to counter the political elite makes sense.
- If European leaders were taken by surprise, as they pretend to be, this would be a major case of abuse. But the truth has to come out on what was decided or discussed in Brussels on 26 October regarding the Greek political situation. If the idea of a referendum was at least mentioned, however, the matter would be different.
- Playing hardball with the Greeks and refusing to release the next batch of aid is a dangerous game. Conditionality will be there but don't forget that Europe is actually rescuing itself in Greece.
- More importantly: calling for a referendum does not mean losing a referendum. The time has come for European leaders to address the Greek people. They deserve explanations and transparency. Why not a summit in Athens to show European unity?
- Finally, the consequences of a 'NO' will be set clearly. An exit procedure from the Eurozone would be discussed immediately. Which is good, in a way, as the Eurozone is lacking such a procedure at the moment.
Stay with us for the further analysis.