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Is EU divided over Greece?

Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 02:17

Germany may have said no deal with Greece until after Sunday's referendum, but France remains keen to help find a solution to keep Greece's place in the euro secure. Ciara Lee reports on the increasingly different positions of France and Germany.

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Lines of pensioners outside banks in Greece collecting limited funds. It's become a regular sight in the country since talks broke down with international creditors, forcing Athens to close banks to prevent them from collapsing. And in stark contrast to Germany, where new data shows real wages climbed in the first quarter at the fastest rate on record. A defiant Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged his countrymen to reject an international bailout deal in a referendum on Sunday. But France has been keen to push for a deal with Greece before the vote which could decide the country's future in Europe. And President Francois Hollande's stance differs sharply from that of Germany. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: "It is our duty to ensure Greece stays in the euro zone. I think we must look for an agreement, for negotiation, for reason. But this requires that everybody be convinced of that. France is fighting for that, it does not want vetoes or roughness." German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that although the door for talks remains open, this can not happen before the referendum. Despite falling on opposite sides of the "austerity vs growth" debate, Paris and Berlin have together insisted that Athens must engage in reform to unblock aid. But while Berlin has toughened its public stance, Paris has stepped up warnings on the risks that failure to strike a deal could have on the euro zone as a whole. CCLA's James Bevan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CCLA, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "France itself recognises that if Greece fails to stay the course, France may be next in line. Most people talk about the peripheral economies as being risky. I look at the economies of Italy and Spain and I see significant progress in change and reform. Not so with France where there are big challenges in terms of budget but also in terms of working practices and long term competitiveness." Hollande is under pressure from the left-wing of his Socialist Party to show he is doing all he can to help Tsipras. While Merkel is seen wanting to play tough in front of her ruling conservatives. Germany has yet again proved its position as the powerhouse of Europe. Consumer spending is likely to propel growth in Europe's largest economy this year.

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Is EU divided over Greece?

Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 02:17