A European Commission spokesperson emphasized yesterday (5 January) that a country’s membership in the common currency area is “irrevocable” when she was asked about the possibility of Greece’s exit from the eurozone. Spokeswoman, Annika Breidthardt, added that this rule was based on article 140, paragraph 3 of the Lisbon Treaty. However, although the eurozone is open to all EU member states to join once they meet the Copenhagen criteria, the treaty neither prohibits not permits the secession. Similarly, there is no provision for a country to be expelled from the common currency area. Nevertheless, when asked whether an option of leaving the single currency area was feasible, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that she did not want to speculate. In her opinion, “speculations and scenarios risk being interpreted in a context that is not put forward.”
The Commission, the EU’s executive body, was questioned the technicalities of eurozone membership after the German weekly Der Spiegel wrote that the country’s government believed it was unavoidable that Greece would leave the eurozone if Syriza, the far-left anti-austerity party, wins the upcoming elections. The Coalition of Radical Left, known colloquially as Syriza, is leading in opinion polls and has threatened to renegotiate the conditions of Greece’s bailout plan run by the EU and the International Monetary Fund if it wins the 25 January election. The possibility of Syriza winning has already rattled both Brussels’ political elites and financial markets. Incumbent Greek Prime Minister has also commented that the election will determine whether his country remains in the eurozone.