Eurozone finance ministers are trying to reach a deal on immediate bailout money for Greece in an effort to help the country avoid bankruptcy.
Monday’s meeting in Brussels is the third time in as many weeks that the ministers from the 17-nation group have attempted to reach an agreement to release a $40 billion rescue package to Greece. Athens says it needs the money — a portion of its second bailout in two years — to avoid defaulting on its financial obligations.
The head of the eurozone finance chiefs, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said after last week’s meeting that they were close to an agreement but that “technical verifications have to be undertaken and financial calculations have to be made” before anything is finalized.
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras again said his country “has done what it had to” in agreeing to the lenders’ demands to impose another round of austerity measures, which are deeply unpopular in Greece.
Despite this, lenders have voiced repeated doubts about the debt-ridden country’s long-term financial condition. A key question is whether Greece should be given another two years — from 2020 to 2022 — to reach a point where it can regularly raise money on international financial markets.
At the moment, Greece’s debt is roughly 180 percent of its gross domestic product — about three times the allowable limit for eurozone countries. Greece’s lenders want Athens to bring its debt down to 120 percent in the coming decade.
If Greece fails and ends up leaving the group, analysts say this could severely affect the eurozone’s poorer member states, such as Portugal and Spain.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)