While over the past 2 days there may have been some confusion as to who, what, how or where is demanding that Greece abdicate fiscal sovereignty (with some of our German readers supposedly insulted by the suggestion that this idea originated in Berlin, and specifically with politicians elected by a majority of the German population), today's quotefest from German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler appearing in Germany's Bild should put any such questions to bed. And from this point on, Greece would be advised to not play dumb anymore vis-a-vis German annexation demands. So from Reuters, "Greece must surrender control of its budget policy to outside institutions if it cannot implement reforms attached to euro zone rescue measures, the German economy minister was quoted as saying on Sunday. Philipp Roesler became the first German cabinet member to openly endorse a proposal for Greece to surrender budget control after Reuters quoted a European source on Friday as saying Berlin wants Athens to give up budget control." And some bad news for our Portuguese (and then Spanish) readers: you are next.
"We need more leadership and monitoring when it comes to implementing the reform course," Roesler, also vice chancellor, told Bild newspaper, according to an advance of an interview to be published on Monday.
"If the Greeks aren't able to succeed themselves with this, then there must be stronger leadership and monitoring from abroad, for example through the EU," added Roesler, chairman of the Free Democrats (FDP) who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Reuters reported on Friday that Germany wants Greece to give up control of budget policy to European institutions as part of discussions over a second rescue package.
Greece, which has repeatedly failed to meet the fiscal targets set out by its international lenders, is in talks to finalise a second 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) package.
With many Greeks blaming Germans for the austerity medicine their country has been forced to swallow, officials in Athens dismissed the idea of relinquishing budget control as out of the question.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Sunday Greece was perfectly capable of making good on its promises.
"Anyone who puts a nation before the dilemma of 'economic assistance or national dignity' ignores some key historical lessons," he said in a statement before heading to Brussels for a European Union summit on Monday.
And by the way, this is just the beginning:
A government source in Berlin said Germany's proposal was aimed not just at Greece but also at other struggling euro zone members that receive aid and are unable to make good on their obligations.
So yes, it is true, and Germany is dead serious. Ball is in the Greek court now: just how far will the new technocrat PM go to sell its people in exchange for a few banker smiles?