Cameron calls on European neighbours to help save Greece

Richard Edgar

Former Economics Editor

Greece sit perilously close to a euro exit Credit: Reuters

There is nothing European central bankers like less than being told what to do. In fact Jean-Claude Trichet, the recently-retired president of the European Central Bank, used to make a point of ignoring demands from politicians, to protect his cherished independence.

So you can imagine the frosty reception our own Prime Minister’s strident advice to today’s policymakers on the continent will have had.

Earlier this morning he called on the ECB to do more to support demands in the crisis countries across the eurozone.

Turning to Germany, the economic powerhouse of the region, he called for a type of government bond which would involve German tax payers taking on the risk of lending to the weaker countries.

Again, this will have gone down like a bowl of cold gruel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sensitive to elections she faces next year.

Britain’s standing in Europe has taken a knock anyway, since Mr Cameron refused last year to sign an economic pact with the rest of the EU.

Yet the PM’s obvious frustration with the protracted way the crisis is being allowed to carry on is understandable.

And,while his speech was quite forthright he is not alone in calling for action as this crisis is building another head of steam.

The fresh elections in Greece are weeks away but accelerating withdrawals of cash from Greek banks may yet trigger a collapse, leading to a messy Greek exit from the euro.

The sands are shifting quickly, faster than many policymakers in Europe seem to realise.