Tuesday

31st May 2016

Euro-ministers and IMF in third attempt to agree on Greece

Eurozone finance ministers and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde are having a third attempt on Monday (26 November) to agree on how to keep Greece afloat and unblock its long-awaited bailout tranche.

At the core of the debate is how to decrease Greece's debt from 190 percent of GDP to 120 percent over the next eight to ten years and how to bridge a multi-billion-euro funding gap that has emerged due to worsening recession and political delays.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Third time lucky? Greece awaits the international creditors to unblock its bailout money (Photo: asterix611)

The IMF insists eurozone governments should accept losses on their Greek loans - so-called Official Sector Involvement (OSI). Germany and a few other countries have argued against saying that as long as the current bailout programme is ongoing, it would be against national and EU law to give loans and at the same time accept losses.

But since the programme ends in 2014, there would be no legal impediment for OSI the following year. According to the German newspaper

Welt am Sonntag, ministers discussed this option last week during a secret meeting in Paris one day ahead of a second Eurogroup which ended in disagreement.

Der Spiegel on Monday also reported that both the IMF and the European Central Bank - Greece's other creditor - are still insisting governments give up half of their Greek claims.

Germany continues to oppose this option. Instead it wants to shift the attention to the "immediate" funding needs - the disbursement of the tranche and filling the funding gap through a bond buying scheme possibly funded by the eurozone bailout fund to the tune of €10 billion.

Lowering the interest rates on the Greek loans is also on the table, but that would raise the question of why other bailed-out countries - Ireland and Portugal and Spain for its banking sector - have to pay more.

"I'm against this write-off and I want to find another solution," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday after an EU summit dedicated to EU budget talks.

Ministers and the IMF are under high pressure to agree, as the Greek government is losing credibility after forcing through highly unpopular spending cuts only to see its bailout tranche further delayed by quarrels among creditors.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday said his EU peers during the summit had recognised it is no longer "Greece's fault."

“We now have some strong supporters. The talks will go on right up to the last minute (on Monday)," he said.

A total of €44.5 billion are to be disbursed by the end of the year, if the Eurogroup agrees on Monday. Preparatory talks took place on Saturday, with ministers sounding cautiously optimistic afterwards.

"I think that in effect we are very close to a solution," French finance minister Pierre Moscovici told BFM television on Sunday. "I don't know if there will be an agreement tomorrow, I know it is possible and I want on," he said.

A third failure to agree would be "irresponsible, given the efforts everyone has made," he added.

One EU source told this website that there will most likely be a deal for the disbursement of the tranche, but the language would be "incomprehensible" and any debt restructuring deal would not be publicly announced.

Finance ministers baulk at tax-avoidance rules

Member states will discuss again in June a proposed directive to outlaw practices used by large companies to avoid paying taxes. Meanwhile, the European Parliament makes progress on its probe of Panama Papers.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary reinforces fence on Serbian border
  2. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  3. EP president rules out return to German politics
  4. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  5. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  6. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  7. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  8. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan