Greece looks for debt help after backing further cuts
- Author: Joey Payne May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 2:13
Without the deal, no new loans can be disbursed to Athens, even though the bailout is now handled only by euro zone governments.
Greek lawmakers approved a reforms package last Thursday that includes pension cuts and tax hikes as demanded by the country's creditors to pave the way for the disbursement of bailout funds totaling more than Euro 7 billion and to begin talks on debt relief.
Participation in this so-called quantitative easing is a key policy aim for Greece's Syriza government, as it would boost investor confidence and prepare the country's return to debt markets.
"I think we're very close to that agreement, but tonight we are unable to close a possible gap between what could be done and what some of us expected could be done", said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup, at a post-meeting press conference late Monday evening in Brussels.
Greece said on Tuesday it has done its part on reforms and that foreign creditors had a "moral, political and legal" duty to meet their obligations toward it.
Dijsselbloem said the parties agreed on a target for Greece's primary surplus, which excludes interest payments, of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product until 2022. "We will now work to conclude a good deal on June 15th".
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, named last week, is joining his peers for the talks Monday and is traveling to the Belgian capital with Wolfgang Schaeuble, his counterpart in Berlin who has been a vocal critic of Greece over the seven years of its bailout era.
Eurozone finance ministers have failed to reach a deal on providing debt relief to Greece, delaying the release of fresh bailout funds to the debt-stricken state.
After more than eight hours of talks in Brussels, ministers from the 19-member single currency bloc could not settle deep differences on debt relief pitting Germany, the eurozone's most powerful member, against the International Monetary Fund.
The eurozone's top official says a decision on whether Greece has done enough to get its hands on the next batch of rescue money that it's due from its bailout program could emerge later Monday.
But some European countries, including Germany, say any debt relief should be considered in 2018, anxious that concessions could affect the pace of economic reforms in Athens.
Greece has to repay more than €7.3bn ($8.19bn) in maturing loans this July.
Several eurozone countries, mainly Germany, have said that International Monetary Fund participation was needed in order to make the third bailout viable.
"There is no excuse for further delay on the issue of the debt relief", he said.
While Greek lawmakers approved a series of tax rises and pension cuts last week Athens also needs to pass a set of laws to make the reforms stick before the funds are unlocked.