Mon, Jul 30, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Most Germans feel they’d do better with marks: poll

JUMPING SHIP:The survey results’ anti-euro sentiment was echoed by German officials who expressed doubts about Greek reforms and solutions for Spain and Italy

AFP, BERLIN

A protester tapes a replica 500 euro bill over her mouth during an anti-capitalism demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

The majority of Germans think their country would be better off without the euro, a poll suggested yesterday, as the German economy minister reiterated doubts over whether Greece can stay in the single currency.

The Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag mass circulation weekly showed 51 percent of Germans believed Europe’s top economy would be better outside the 17-country eurozone. Twenty-nine percent said it would be worse off.

The survey also showed that 71 percent of Germans wanted Greece to leave the euro if it did not live up to its austerity promises.

German Minister of Economics and Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler told the Bild am Sonntag there were “considerable doubts whether Greece is living up to its reform promises.”

“The implementation [of the reforms] is faltering. There is still no functioning tax office. Also, almost nothing has happened in terms of the promised privatization of public assets,” Roesler told the paper. “If Greece does not fulfill its obligations, there can be no more money. Then Greece would be insolvent.”

Roesler and his party — junior partners in Germany’s ruling coalition — have frequently expressed doubts about whether Greece is prepared to follow through with the painful reforms necessary to stay in the single currency club.

Debt-wracked Greece is under immense pressure to carry out a structural reform program, part of a package worth billions of euros that have been keeping its economy alive since 2010.

International auditors are currently in Greece, assessing the Greek government’s progress toward reforms seen as essential to get the country back on its feet.

The audit report will determine whether Greece will receive the next tranche of 31.5 billion euros (US$38.8 billion) from its aid program that it needs to keep the economy afloat.

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Saturday threw cold water on speculation that the eurozone’s bailout fund will buy Spanish public debt.

Spanish and French media have suggested that the European Financial Stability Facility would start buying bonds issued by Italy and Spain in a coordinated action with the European Central Bank (ECB).

“No, these speculations are unfounded,” Schaeuble said in an interview with the German weekly Die Welt am Sonntag that was to appear on yesterday.

The ECB could resume its own purchases of sovereign bonds on secondary markets to ease pressure on borrowing costs for Rome and Madrid that have climbed to what many consider to be unsustainable levels.

Many economists have also begun to expect some kind of combined effort on the part of eurozone governments and the central bank, especially after ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday that the bank would “do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.”

Yet Madrid has rejected the notion of a financial rescue and ruled it out again on Friday.

“A bailout is not an option,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.

The Spanish economic daily El Economista spoke on Wednesday of an overall plan worth 300 billion euros that would allow Spain to finance its public deficit for at least a year-and-a-half.

The eurozone has already approved up to 100 billion euros in aid for the Spanish banking sector.

Schaeuble told Die Welt am Sonntag that Spain “has taken all necessary decisions and is putting them into effect.”

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