Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Europe does not need IMF: Macron

AP, ATHENS

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron in Athens on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said that the IMF should step back from its role in European bailouts — breaking with a widely accepted policy adopted when Greece sought international help seven years ago.

On a two-day visit to Athens, Macron said that the eurozone rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, should play the lead role in financial rescue within the currency zone.

France, Europe’s No. 2 economy, had previously backed Germany’s insistence in involving the IMF to enforce austerity measures that came with bailout programs in Greece and other rescued economies including Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.

However, on Thursday, Macron told reporters: “I don’t think it was the right method for the IMF to supervise European programs and intervene in the way it did... Let’s work within Europe and not turn to outside agencies.”

Macron made the remarks after meeting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and before delivering a speech on Europe’s future on a hill facing the ancient Acropolis in Athens.

“The presence of the IMF was a symptom of a lack of confidence between European countries and sometimes even between the European countries and the European institutions,” Macron said after the meeting.

Greece considers France a vital ally and counterweight to fiscally hawkish Germany in its efforts to ease the stringent terms of its international bailouts.

The country has relied on international rescue loans since 2010, and in return has seen its economy put under strict supervision by its creditors.

Successive governments have had to enforce radical fiscal and structural reforms, including pension cuts and repeated tax hikes, to qualify for the loans.

Security was tight for Macron’s visit, with Greek authorities banning protests throughout a large part of central Athens and mobilizing more than 2,000 police on the capital’s streets as motorists suffered in congested traffic.

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