Eurogroup warns Greece it is facing "last chance" to make budget cuts; US planning to expand missile defense systems in Asia to counter threats from North Korea; Australia to increase refugee quota by 45 percent; clashes in Tripoli breach truce; France eases work restrictions for Roma immigrants; and more
Top of the Agenda: Eurogroup Chief Warns Greece on Budget Cuts
Following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras yesterday, Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned Greece that it is facing its "last chance" to enact economic overhauls (WSJ) and budget cuts in order to prove its credibility to international creditors. Samaras has called for a two-year extension for implementing EU-mandated austerity measures, but Juncker indicated a decision on that request would not come until inspectors visit Athens next month. However, Juncker reiterated his support for Greece staying in the euro, saying an exit would have significant negative repercussions for the rest of the currency zone. Samaras is set to meet with the German and French leaders this weekend.
"Of course, a breakup now would be very costly, requiring an international debt conference to restructure the periphery's debts and the core's claims. But breaking up earlier could allow the survival of the single market and of the EU. A futile attempt to avoid a breakup for a year or two--after wasting trillions of euros in additional official financing by the core--would mean a disorderly end, including the destruction of the single market," writes Nouriel Roubini for Project Syndicate.
"Southern Europe's economic rot is deepening and spreading north. Politics is turning rancid as the south succumbs to austerity fatigue and the north to rescue fatigue. Populism only makes a grand bargain more elusive. For the moment, breaking up the euro would be riskier than fixing it. But unless Mrs. Merkel presses ahead, the choice will be between an expensive break-up sooner and a really ruinous one later," says the Economist.
U.S. Planning New Missile Defenses in Asia
The United States is planning a significant expansion of its missile defense systems in Asia in an effort to counter threats from North Korea, while allowing it to potentially contain China's growing military, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government today announced it will increase its refugee quota (ABC) by 45 percent to 20,000 people per year, the majority of whom are expected to come from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Clashes in Tripoli breach truce reached days ago