European officials welcomed Greece’s approval of a new debt deal on Monday but they also struck a cautious tone, warning that Greek authorities still had a long way to go before clinching the country’s second bailout.
European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn described the positive vote on the new package of austerity measures as “a crucial step” and said he was confident that the other conditions demanded by eurozone finance ministers last week -- including the provision of details regarding an additional 325 million euros in savings and guarantees from Greek political leaders -- would be in place before a scheduled Eurogroup summit in Brussels on Wednesday.
But Rehn indicated that the vote was just the beginning of a process. “The Greek authorities and political forces should now take full ownership and make the case for the second program and fully implement it in order to return the country to stable economic growth and job creation,” Rehn said.
In Germany, the creditor state that is contributing the largest chunk to Greece’s recovery, politicians were more reserved. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the positive vote was “very important’’ but emphasized that Greece must stick to the program of implementing the tough austerity measures. “I think that the bundle of measures make it clear that it is not just about saving, but about structural reforms,” Merkel said. The eurozone ministers will consider the measures at their meeting, “but changes cannot and will not be made to this program,’’ she added.
German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler also indicated that Greece was far from being home free. “It is not enough just to give financial aid. They must tackle the second cause of the crisis: the lack of economic competitiveness,” he told ARD television. “For that, they need massive structural reforms. Otherwise Greece will not get out of the crisis,” he said.
Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has in recent weeks hardened his stance toward Athens, remarked that the austerity measures being demanded by creditors “are not about torturing anyone.”