Vienna, 04 November 2011 Learning the lessons from the Greek crisis Austrian Finance Minister Dr. Maria Fekter argues that future candidates for EU membership should be “looked at very carefully” and expresses optimism on the Greek parliamentary vote on the aid package.

"We have to take the criteria for the Euro zone much more seriously than we have in the past”, Austrian Finance Minister Dr. Maria Fekter makes clear with respect to future candidates for admission to the EU. "What this means is that whenever there is a new entry to the Euro zone, we will have to look at them much more carefully than we did in the case of Greece.“ The economic structure of the country will have to be scrutinised with an unparalleled level of rigour“, Fekter emphasised. “I have been and continue to be persuaded of the European project and of the importance of a currency union that includes as many EU countries as possible”, Fekter stated. She is also optimistic about the stabilisation of the Eurozone: “The political will to preserve this union is really the only stable pillar of the recent past. That means not letting Greece defaut, not kicking it out. This political will has been and continues to be unbroken”, she said, while at the same time warning of the increasing danger of egotism at the level of nation-states.

As regards the current situation in Greece, Fekter is convinced “that the majority of the Greek parliament will support the resolutions in favour of the aid package.” In Fekter’s view, the idea of holding a referendum, first put forward by PM Papandreou and now abandoned, “had not been sufficiently thought through from an economic perspective. As a politician I can easily imagine how this came about in Greece", the Finance Minister explained. “I suspect that what happened was that a small group in Athens held a discussion about the need for a kind of political cover for the austerity programme in view of the social tensions that are emerging, which are a cause for concern”, Fekter said. “But you always have to remember the next day. And that is something the Greeks failed to do”, stated Fekter in closing.