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European Union/Greece

Published on July 9, 2015
Press conference by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at the Euro Area summit

Brussels, July 7, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, this Euro Area council meeting was necessary. It was even essential, following the vote by the Greeks, following Sunday’s referendum.
There was a need to resume dialogue and restore confidence.

The challenge is to find out Greece’s place in the European Union and therefore in the Euro Area. France wants Greece to remain in the Euro Area and it’s working to achieve that. Nevertheless, it’s firstly up to the Greeks to make the response, and I’m not talking about what was said in the referendum and the interpretation, I’m talking about what the Greek democratic political parties want, and they’ve expressed it; they want Greece to remain in the Euro Area.

Proposals must be made tomorrow morning, and then they’ll have to be specified in the framework of a medium-term programme, accompanied by a short-term request for assistance for Thursday. The Eurogroup will have to deal with this – what I call the Eurogroup is the meeting of Euro Area finance ministers – and examine these proposals in the framework of this new programme on Saturday. So a meeting of heads of state and government will be possible on Sunday.

If I had to sum up what’s at stake – I’ve said it: Greece in the Euro Area, but it’s not only a problem for Greece – it’s the future of Europe, the idea of Europe, i.e. what projects it’s capable of furthering too, what it’s capable of bringing about for the people, namely confidence. If I had to sum things up, I’d say there are three principles that must guide us today: responsibility, which applies to the Greeks but also applies to each country, and each country must know what it has to do. The second principle is solidarity: that’s how the Euro Area and the European Union were founded, but in order for there to be solidarity there must be responsibility. Finally, the third principle is speed, because several months have been devoted to discussions regarding the extension of a programme – never mind the technical terms – but today there’s no more time to lose. So it was very important for France that the timetable should be very clearly set out this evening; this has been done. On Wednesday, Greece is making proposals in the framework of a request for assistance. On Thursday, it’s specifying its proposals in the framework of a medium-term programme and the Eurogroup is ruling on those proposals before the heads of state and government have to do so, if need be.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I’m taking away from this Euro Area council. It’s true there’s been no decision: there couldn’t be any, it was simply about learning the lessons of the referendum, finding out whether it was the end of the process or the final moment enabling us to emerge from it. Is an agreement still possible? My answer is yes, but there will not only have to be no time-wasting: I know what the Greek people are currently undergoing for lack of liquidity, but I also know the necessity of the European rules. We’re in a group and must therefore respect its principles and obligations, and so there must be this decision-making, this responsibility and this timetable. We had to move quickly, we’ll have to move quickly so that, for the sake of the whole world, there’s a Euro Area capable of taking a decision.

This evening wasn’t the time. This evening was about a timetable; the decision will have to be taken; France will work until Saturday, indeed until Sunday to ensure this decision is in line with our interests, our interests as Europeans, our economic and financial interests, our political interests too, our idea of Europe, and therefore France will spare no effort to seek an agreement. Subsequently, it’s about responsibility: the responsibility of the Greeks, as I’ve said, and the responsibility of the Euro Area countries. France will have done everything to ensure that the idea of those who created the Euro Area, those who then consolidated it, those who wanted this Europe, can prevail./.

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