CNBC News Releases

CNBC Exclusive Interview: Luxembourg Finance Minister, Pierre Gramegna

Q1: What's your sentiment on Greek negotiations? Can we reach agreement before deadline?

A1: There is a last effort here to bridge the gap between Greek proposals and what Eurozone members want which is a global framework that is consistent with stability and growth. This is the last effort and it seems the president of the commission will try to find a solution with Mr Tsipras. I think it is key that a solution is found because we both have the same goal, Greece and the Euro group – that Greece should stay in the Eurozone. As we have same goal am confident will find a solution.

Q2: How big do you think is the risk of a default?

A2: Difficult to say because if we find an agreement there is obviously some money left from the existing programme. There are also other places where we can tap some money around the profits that have been made on the bonds with Greece. There is some money available and that's why it's important – if we find an agreement there's plenty of money to make sure there isn't a default.

Q3: Risk of grexit?

A3: Everything should be done to avoid grexit. Should find compromise that serves all sides.

Q4: French econ minister Macron says it's time to accept the idea of a two speed Europe. One the one hand a lighter EU membership and on the other a more integrated Eurozone. Makes sense?

A4: Already have a 2 or 3 speed Europe. For example: Eurozone – 19 countries that have accepted the euro and 9 others who haven't. Have opt out of Britain in certain labour and social security matters. Have Schengen area – passport free flow of people which is also a la carte. This idea of having groups that go along together more quickly, deeply is something we've done in the past. It can be a way to a solution but obviously going more deeply in the Eurozone will mean a lot more integration and that's not something that everyone wants but let's see how concrete the proposals are.

Q5: French and German economy ministers will release a joint statement in that direction. Will you support this initiative to ones like a more integrated or deeper fiscal consolidation in the Eurozone?

A5: We see that we have in Europe those that want less Europe, or a different Europe – this is what our friends in the UK are asking (let's see what the details are about this) and on the other hand you have those that want to deepen Europe so it will be interesting in the months to come how to reconcile all of this. I think we already have a Europe with different speeds, with different subjects. That's obviously a way out.

Q6: Any big risk of brexit?

A6: Far too early to discuss that. I've said on many occasions that Luxembourg would like the UK to stay in the EU because it's good for the UK and good for Europe so that's a premise from which we start. We are keen to hear what proposals our British partners are making and it's on that basis that we make up our mind.

Q7: Do you think offering the UK some lighter EU membership would convince the country and voters to remain in the EU?

A7: I don't know if what UK wants is lighter EU. They say 'different' or 'more efficient' EU. What EU commission has said and what also subscribe to is that the 4 pillars, freedoms, are essential. They are the freedoms on which we built the EU – free flow of people, capital, goods and services. These pillars have been beneficial to all of us and particularly the UK so why change those pillars? We also have a treaty that guarantees we respect those pillars. If this remains untouched, a lot of things can be adjusted.

Q8: On economic situation in Eurozone. Do you think all the members have done what it takes in terms of economic and structural reforms? Thinking of France.

A8: I think we have a window of opportunity opening up. It is difficult to do structural reform at a time when you have no growth. Now finally we see growth is picking up after 4 years of stagnation in many countries in the EU and as this growth is picking up this is the right time to do the structural reforms that make sure your economy becomes more competitive. France has adopted the 'Loire-Macron' which is certainly a policy that goes in the right direction. A lot more probably needs to be done to reduce the deficit of the yearly budget as quickly as possible. As I said we have now a window of opportunity that must be used.

Q9: So what's your message? Don't miss this window?

A9: Exactly. Now is the right time.