LONDON, United Kingdom, 7.30pm – The stakes are high as at time of writing a last minute deal between Athens and its creditors still appears impossible to reach. In the absence of a deal before midnight Washington time, the country will default on the €1.6 billion debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due tonight risking a domino effect of cross-default clauses and the biggest sovereign bankruptcy in history.
The Greeks have just requested another bailout deal from the eurozone, asking for a new two-year €29.1 billion deal to cover its debt repayments until the end of 2017 from a bailout mechanism for eurozone countries. Eurozone finance ministers will discuss it in a teleconference this evening.
EuroActive.com reports that having already received nearly €240 billion in two bailouts from the EU and IMF since 2010, Athens will lose much needed €16.3 billion funds in the form of three financing sources. Officials said:
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone […] What disappears is 16.3 billion euros. What disappears is the [European Financial Stability Facility] tranche, €1.8 billion, the [Securities Markets Programme] profits, and the remaining amount that had remained from the [Hellenic Financial Stability Fund] buffer, that’s just over €16 billion.”
The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is available for reform programme support, covering the government’s fiscal and budget means. The €10.9 billion remaining in the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) buffer is also derived from the EFSF and will be transferred back to it at midnight.
The European Central Bank’s Securities Markets Programme (SMP) is a complicated system of transferring profits which the ECB has been earning on loans provided to the Greek government. 2014’s SMP funds of €1.85 billion sit in the EFSF ready for disbursement after the sides carry out the review that would then authorise payment. The review has not happened to date and is much delayed. 2015’s profits would normally be transferred in the first week of July. The Greek finance minister, Yannis Varoufakis, asked for the 2014 SMP profits be frontloaded to help avoid default, but this was turned down.
Although the EFSF and HFSF allow the European Commission a range of options in response to default – do nothing but “take note” that the non-payment has happened; accelerate payments, requesting the repayment of the entire amount owed; or postpone a decision to monitor the situation – that would not get Greece out of its hole.
Under normal conditions €16 billion should still be available in the IMF program until Q1 of 2016, but default will also block this. Non-payment means it cannot lend to a country until arrears have been cleared.
EurActiv.com reports that a spokesman for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that contacts were “still ongoing” between the EU executive and Athens but there’s no intention to buy time diplomatically by “stopping the clock” at midnight.
Meanwhile in an unprecedented development Greece has threatened to seek a court injunction against the EU institutions to both to block expulsion from the euro. Talking to The Telegraph Varoufakis said:
“The Greek government will make use of all our legal rights. We are taking advice and will certainly consider an injunction at the European Court of Justice. The EU treaties make no provision for euro exit and we refuse to accept it. Our membership is not negotiable.”