Benoit Coeure: New memorandum if IMF stays on Greek program

ECB board member says 3.5% surplus viable

Benoit Coeure, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) executive board member, said that Greece was not in need of a fourth bailout program, speaking to Greek television station Skai TV. Coeure left the possibility of reducing the 3.5% GDP surplus target open after the completion of the current memorandum. The ECB member did not rule out the prospect of the EuroGroup convening in an emergency session in the event the December 5 meeting did not produce any results. “Time is very significant, but of course, this should not affect the content of the agreement”, the ECB official underlined. On the issue of readjusting the GDP surplus target below 3.5%, Coeure stressed that it could be an option, adding however, that this would be achieved gradually over a few years not in 2018. He continued by pointing out that the ECB believed Greece could achieve a 3.5% surplus for a few years after 2018, on the condition that a mixture of correct fiscal policies with debt relief measures were adopted. He reiterated the ECB’s position that the Greek debt was not guaranteed, which meant that more policies were necessary in this direction, while adding that the IMF should continue to be part of the Greek program, as this would add international stability and credibility to the program. “In this sense”, he added, “the participation of the IMF would mean a new memorandum as the Fund would demand new measures”. Finally, on the matter of the Greek bonds he underlined that any decision concerning monetary policies would be made exclusively by the ECB board independent of any political considerations.