German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers in Berlin that Greece would stay in the euro for the time being if Greek voters reject austerity in a referendum scheduled this week, according to three people present.
Schaeuble also said the European Central Bank would do what’s needed to protect the euro if Greeks voted against the bailout terms in the July 5 referendum, according to the people, all of whom participated in the closed-door meeting on Tuesday. They asked not to be identified, citing the private nature of the discussion.
Germany’s stance suggests that policy makers in Berlin are preparing for Greeks to reject the offer by creditors for continued aid to the euro area’s most-indebted nation. Schaeuble said in that event Greece may be able tap about 32 billion euros ($36 billion) in European Union support funding to boost its economy, according to the participants.
“Our goal remains to keep Greece in the euro, regardless of the referendum result,” Antje Tillmann, a lawmaker for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said by phone. “It’s up to Greece itself to decide whether it wants to stay in the euro zone.”
A Finance Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment citing the private nature of the parliamentary meeting.
All EU economic-stimulus funds earmarked for Greece are “of course still available,” Merkel said at a news conference Monday. “We also stand ready to help to the extent that it’s necessary for Greece.”
Greece’s government “won’t be able to destroy Europe,” Schaeuble said on ARD television on Monday. “Greece is on a difficult path. But we will do everything to keep Europe stable.”