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Greece in last-chance saloon as Eurogroup decides on bailout


Greece

Greece in last-chance saloon as Eurogroup decides on bailout

Eurozone finance ministers have been gathering in Brussels for the all-important Eurogroup meeting that could help determine the country’s fate.

The Greek parliament has backed the prime minister’s latest proposals which include austerity measures rejected by the people in last weekend’s referendum.

251 voted in favour of the proposals and 32 against, in theory giving leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the mandate needed to complete negotiations with Brussels.

Opinion in the Eurogroup is thought to be divided, even though international institutions have given an initially positive assessment.

“I think we are here to make a lot more progress,” said Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund (IMF)Managing Director.

Athens is looking for 53.5 billion euros to cover debt over three years,
in return for reforms, spending cuts and tax rises.

Germany – Greece’s biggest creditor – is sceptical after five months of acrimonious talks and rebukes.

But Berlin and others are keeping an open mind.

“In the name of the European Commission, what I’m going to do is firstly to present an analysis of the financial risks for the eurozone. Secondly an analysis of the sustainability of Greek debt, then thirdly the needs which are very important to satisfy this programme. And that’s the basis on which the ministers will have to make their decision,” said Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs.

Greece urgently needs a deal to avert bankruptcy and possibly crashing out of the eurozone.

But the finance ministers have their own countries to answer to, and the outcome is far from certain.

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