Euro zone leaders optimistic over new Greek economic proposals

New proposals from Greece are improving the chances that the debt-ridden country can reach a deal with its creditors and avoid possible default on its loans at the end of the month.

European Council President Donald Tusk said late Monday that new Greek reforms of its pension system and sales tax are “the first real proposals in many weeks.”

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem called it an opportunity to wrap up a deal by the end of the week.

Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels later this week on the new Greek proposals.

Greece must make a nearly $2 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund by the end of the month. To do that, it needs an $8 billion installment of a European Union economic bailout.

Talks between Greece and European finance ministers have stalled over EU demands for more economic reforms from Athens. But Greece’s leftist government has said Greeks have suffered enough from spending cuts and tax hikes that have lowered their standard of living.

A Greek default could expel Greece from the eurozone and shake up European markets.

Thousands of Greeks rallied outside parliament in Athens Monday night to demand the government do all it can to keep Greece in the eurozone – the group of 19 countries that use the euro as its currency.

Police made several arrests as some protesters threw flares.

The European Central Bank agreed last last week to pump an additional $3.4 billion to Greek banks after worried Greeks stood in lines at teller windows and ATMs to withdraw more than $4 billion in savings.


(Photo, of Mark Rutte, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Jean-Claude Juncker, Mario Draghi, Francois Hollande, Alexis Tsipras, Mariano Rajoy Brey, Taavi Roivas, Juha Sipila: EC Audiovisual Service)