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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Wednesday, 22 June 2011 09:38 UK

Lord Brittan: A 'perilous moment' for Europe

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The former vice president of the European Commissioner, Lord Brittan, has said there is a real possibility that Greece could withdraw from the single currency if it cannot get its financial crisis under control.

The Greek prime minister has narrowly won a vote of confidence in Parliament, but MPs there need to approve further austerity measures to secure a second emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund, in order to avoid defaulting on debt payments. Lord Brittan said this was a "very perilous moment" for Europe.

"It is not impossible that Greece could exit the eurozone if it does not implement the measures it is now committed to," he told Today presenter Evan Davis.

"I think that's a very real possibility. Everything depends on whether it does implement the measures, and of course legislating is one thing, actually implementing is another, and the history is not a happy one. But I think it all depends on whether the crisis is appreciated in Greece, and it is realised, first of all, how serious it is. It is in everyone's interest that Greece should do what people have asked Greece to do for a very long time, which is to put its finances in order."

Lord Brittan's comments come after the US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called upon eurozone countries to speak with a single voice on Greece's debt crisis.

"They've got a complicated set of institutions," he told a conference in Washington. "But they have to agree on a strategy, and on that clarity, for people on the markets to understand what the basic plan is."


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