In an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt, former economic minister Rainer Brüderle said: “Unlike two years ago, the eurozone today could cope with a Greek exit.”
“It would cost a lot of money but it would be manageable. The decision, however, lies in Athens and not in Berlin.
“The Greeks themselves have to weigh up whether reintroducing the drachma would help their economic recovery more than staying in the eurozone,” added Brüderle, parliamentary chief for the Free Democratic Party.
With an eye on the damage a potential Greek exit would cause to other shaky economies like Italy and Spain, EU finance ministers in March clinched a deal to raise their “firewall” to what they claimed was more than $1 trillion.
The idea of Greece leaving the eurozone has been increasingly discussed in public, with British Prime Minister David Cameron warning Wednesday the block had to “make up, or it’s looking at a potential break-up.”
Germany’s position is that it is prepared to help Greece – with continued EU funding – but that Athens must carry out the reforms agreed in exchange for the bailouts that have been agreed.
Since an inconclusive election on May 6 that handed huge gains to parties opposed to austerity demanded by Berlin, the line has hardened, with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warning the second vote next month will be about Greece’s place in the euro.
Merkel used her first news conference with new French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, however, to stress that both Paris and Berlin wanted the debt-wracked country to stay in the euro.