Este titlul unui articol din seara aceasta din Financial Times: „Greece votes No — now what?”
Even before the polls closed in Greece, Emmanuel Macron, the French economic minister, insisted that even with a No vote in Sunday night’s referendum, talks must resume between the leftwing government in Athens and its eurozone creditors.
But despite predictions by Greek ministers that a new bailout deal could be just days away, other than Mr Macron and his French colleagues, there are few elsewhere in the eurozone who predicted a resounding No would lead to much more than continued stalemate.
If that is the result of overwhelming rejection of creditors’ terms, it would mean a slow march to Greece exiting the eurozone.
“Greece has just signed its own suicide note,” predicted Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy. “Only the French will want to salvage something from this vote, but they’re unlikely to win the debate in the eurogroup.”
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is due to fly to Paris on Monday for consultations with President François Hollande on what steps to take next.
The most critical immediate response to the vote is likely to be in Frankfurt, where the European Central Bank’s policy making governing council is due to meet on Monday afternoon.
With Greek voters unequivocally rejecting the bailout proposal, ECB policy makers may find it difficult to resist the argument made by council hardliners, particularly the Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann, that the Greek government-backed securities the country’s banks use as collateral for emergency loans are heading to default.
The key date in the crisis is now July 20, when Greece owes €3.5bn on a bond held by the ECB.
If Athens defaults on that bond, it would be almost impossible for the ECB to continue accepting collateral from Greek banks, and the €89bn in emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) would be withdrawn, devastating Greece’s banking sector. Without central bankers providing euros, Athens would be forced to print its own currency to reopen banks, and the dice would be cast on the path to “Grexit” from the eurozone.
On Monday, the ECB may determine that the path to default is now so much clearer that it must ask for even more collateral to keep the current €89bn lifeline open. For banks already short on collateral — and one of the four big Greek banks is known to be on EU authorities’ watch list — that could push them over the brink into bankruptcy.
The ECB is unlikely to take the more drastic step of entirely withdrawing emergency funding on Monday, however. The last time Athens came this close to “Grexit”, in mid-2012, Mario Draghi, the ECB president, decided it was too momentous a decision for unelected central bankers to make, and warned the EU’s political leaders they would have to make the ultimate choice on their own.
According to two eurozone officials, in July 2012 Mr Draghi told the heads of the European Commission, European Council and eurogroup of finance ministers that they would be asked to guarantee the Greek bonds and other government-backed securities being used by Greek banks in return for ELA. If they demurred, ELA would be pulled and Grexit would ensue.
At that time, then-prime minister Antonis Samaras reversed course and agreed to abide by a new €172bn bailout. Alexis Tsipras, the current premier, has shown no willingness to reverse course, particularly after such a resounding victory in the plebiscite.
Eurozone officials said they expected a similar series of events to play out in the next two weeks, before the July 20 deadline. One senior official said a eurozone summit was the most likely scenario, where leaders would have to decide whether to guarantee Greek bonds. Such a summit could be held as soon as this week.
Mr Tsipras has insisted that with the backing of his country’s voters, eurozone leaders will now be more willing to concede to Greek demands and agree a new €29.1bn two-year bailout with less onerous terms. But most finance ministers reject that assertion, and many believe that no deal will be in the offing before July 20.
Even if the July 20 bond is defaulted on, Grexit will not be immediate. As Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, has repeatedly noted, there is no provision in the EU treaties for kicking a country out of the bloc’s common currency.
Instead, Greece could be left in limbo for months, circulating a parallel currency while technically still in the eurozone. EU lawyers have already been working overtime to figure a way out of that dilemma.
But the path to Grexit was never going to be easy.