Eurozone countries have been discussing action plans if, in the worst-case scenario, Greece decides to leave the 17-nation common currency bloc.
Officials who wished to remain anonymous told Reuters that there are a number of contingency plans being prepared, although they also said they do not expect they will be needed. The officials who spoke to the news agency said they cannot imagine Greece leaving the currency.
Specifically, finance ministers have talked about limiting the size of withdrawals from ATMs, imposing border checks, and setting up capital controls.
The Ekathimerini newspaper recently reported that between $7.5 billion and $8.75 billion was withdrawn from banks in Greece last month. In the past several days, the withdrawals have increased.
“Contingency planning is underway for a scenario under which Greece leaves,” a source involved in the talks told Reuters. The source added, “These are not political discussions, these are discussions among finance experts who need to be prepared for any eventuality.”
The planning, he said, is “sensible,” because anything could happen in a “worst-case scenario.”
Another official stressed: “All the contingency plans (for Greece) come back to the same thing: to be responsible as a government is to foresee even what you hope to avoid.”
Greece will hold fresh elections on Sunday after last month’s vote failed to produce a government. The chief point of disagreement was over how to handle the highly unpopular austerity measures mandated by the EU and International Monetary Fund as part of the deal to give Greece the latest $170 billion bailout.
The far-left SYRIZA party, which opposes the cuts, is expected to do well in the elections, possibly even gain a majority.
SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday reiterated that his party will not form a unity government with parties who favor the EU bailout. But he added that he wants to keep Greece in the eurozone.
“If one of the 17 countries [in the euro zone] is brought to collapse… the fire will become uncontrollable and will not be limited to Greece and the southern countries… it will break up the euro zone and that will not be in anyone’s interest,” he warned, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.