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Committee MPs predict Grexit despite bailout deal

Three government MPs from the committee which decides Finland's EU policy tell Yle they expect Greece to no longer be in the single currency in four years' time. The comments - likely to reinforce the government's reputation for a tough anti-bailout stance - come as the Grand Committee meets to reach agreement about Finland's position in future bailout negotiations.

Anne-Mari Virolainen, kok.
The NCP's chair of the Grand Committee, Anne-Mari Virolainen, told Yle she is sceptical that Greece will stay within the euro. Image: Yle

Greece is unlikely to still be in the euro in four years’ time, according to the chair and two members of Finland’s parliamentary EU committee.

On Thursday the Grand Committee, a group of MPs charged with deciding parliament’s stance on EU legislative proposals, will meet to reach agreement about Finland’s stance on the latest bailout deal for Greece.

Late on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras won a vote in parliament in favour of accepting the EU and IMF’s terms, which means the two sides can now begin talks on a third bailout deal. Tspiras, from the left-wing Syriza party, told MPs that he does not support the austerity programme, but it is the country’s only hope of avoiding a Greek exit from the eurozone.

Euro exit

Speaking to Yle ahead of the Finland’s Grand Committee session on Thursday, three government committee members all expressed their expectation that despite accepting a series of extremely tough austerity measures in return for a third bailout loan from its creditors, Greece will nonetheless exit from the euro.

“Personally, even despite the bailout package, I find it very hard to believe that the situation will improve,” said the Finns Party’s Simon Elo. He called instead for Greece to temporarily exit the single currency.

An MP from the governing Centre Party, Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, told Yle that she also believes Greece is heading towards a euro exit. “Greece’s debt burden is just so enormous,” she said.

Meanwhile the chair of the committee, Anne-Mari Virolainen of the National Coalition Party, told Yle she wants to believe Greece will stay within the currency union, but described herself as sceptical.

“Portugal and Spain both also had a tough austerity programme but they adopted its terms. So the Greeks have an example to follow,” she said.

Tough stance

The comments are likely to reinforce the international reputation of the Finnish government as having adopted one of the toughest stances of all EU countries against granting further loans to Greece.

But speaking to Yle on Thursday, the second deputy speaker of the Grand Committee, the opposition MP Tytti Tuppurainen, questioned the motivation of her committee colleagues for publicly forecasting a Greek euro exit.

”The fact that government MPs on the committee are all predicting a Greek exit from the euro is a signal of something. I hope Greece will stay within the European family and that the continent will retain peace and stability,” she said.

Finance Minister Alexander Stubb and PM Juha Sipilä were appearing before the committee on Thursday morning, and a decision on Finland’s approach to the bailout talks is expected mid-afternoon on the same day.

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