Is it the end of the marathon? Well, it certainly seemed so as tired EU finance ministers arrived at the European Council in Brussels on Tuesday morning after long discussions into the night to seal a second huge bailout for Greece.
The 130 billion euro rescue package aims to bring Athens’ debt to around 120 percent of its GDP: however much still depends on Greece’s private lenders accepting deeper losses.
Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said: “We’re now asking the private sector to sign the deal that’s on the table. But, until the end of February Greece must have another action plan.”
Eurozone leaders hailed the deal as a step forward for Athens and the agreement certainly appears to postpone Greece’s most pressing problem – imminent default – ahead of an auction of government bonds in March.
However, major doubts remain over whether the bailout will enable the country to bring its debt mountain to more sustainable levels in the long-term.
Greece is also being forced to give up much more financial sovereignty to its lenders, the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission, the so-called troika.
As euronews’ Raquel García Alvarez explained: ‘‘After long drawn out talks into the night and several weeks of delays a deal has been sealed. But, the atmosphere in the Council for today’s meeting of financial ministers doesn’t seem very joyous and is quite serious. There’s more a sense of relief that finally leaders will be able to start discussing other problems, at least for the moment.’‘