Channel NewsAsia

Europe must remain 'vigilant' against economic crisis: Juncker

Europe must remain "vigilant" against new financial challenges as it struggles to overcome the lingering effects of the debt crisis, the European Commission's incoming head Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday (August 4).

ATHENS: Europe must remain "vigilant" against new financial challenges as it struggles to overcome the lingering effects of the debt crisis, the European Commission's incoming head Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday (August 4).

The day after Brussels gave the green light for a state rescue of Portuguese banking giant Banco Espirito Santo (BES), Juncker warned the recession-hit region remained vulnerable to fresh economic strains.

"I believe that we have gone a long way and we are nearing the end but we have not yet turned a corner," said Juncker during a visit to crisis-hit Greece, his first official visit to a member state since being elected as the head of the EU's executive arm.

Brussels on Sunday gave the green light for a near 5.0-billion-euro (US$6.7 billion) rescue plan for stricken BES in a bid to "restore confidence in financial stability" and avoid hurting the broader Portuguese economy.

Junker said the situation in Portugal remained "fragile," adding that "we must remain vigilant... across Europe, we could be affected by things which we cannot predict". The crisis at BES has shaken confidence in Portugal, which has only just emerged from a three-year EU-backed aid plan, one of several countries to be rescued when they were frozen out of international debt markets.

After holding talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Juncker emphasised that member states must continue with "fiscal discipline" despite the improving outlook in financial markets. As head of the 18-nation eurozone group of finance ministers, Juncker was crucial in negotiating two rescue packages for Greece in return for a hugely unpopular austerity programme that sank the economy into a deep six-year recession.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia