The Eurozone’s finance ministers have arrived at Brussels for the Eurogroup meeting in which an agreement is expected for Greece’s second bailout package. The members are expected to give their approval so that Greece may satisfy its debt obligations in March and prevent a default. However, some issues may still have to be debated.
We compiled some statements made by top officials before commencing the Eurogroup meeting, as reported by Reuters:
Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker said, ‘I would like to assume that we can reach final and concluding negotiations today. The Greek side has fulfilled many preparatory efforts we had demanded. We have to conclude today, there’s no more time to waste.’
‘There are still questions as to how much the public sector can contribute and how we will handle the issue of private creditors in detail, and we will have to talk about the total volume of the second program. We can’t exceed 130 billion.’
According to IMF director Christine Lagarde, ‘Greece has obviously made significant efforts, and now we need to continue the work and that the entirety of the elements, particularly furnished by the other parties, are also put into place.’
French finance minister Francois Baroin said, ‘Today we have all the elements we need to reach a deal. It’s like a puzzle. All the pieces are on the table; what’s needed now is to put them together and that we will try to do this afternoon.
The following ministers revealed that it may not be a done deal just yet:
Holland’s finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said, ‘We will see to a rigid and very strict implementation of those demands and only then will we make the next step.’ De Jager said that Greece must first live up to all its obligations.
German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble:
‘If there weren’t anything to discuss we wouldn’t have a meeting…Today we are aiming to finalize the decision on a new rescue package for Greece. The state secretaries have prepared it well but there are still some details we have to talk about.
‘We still need clarity on the involvement of private creditors about a program to make sure that Greece will not exceed a debt level of 120 percent of GDP by the year 2020. There is still some work to do and we have to make sure that the program is implemented. I’m confident.’
Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter:
‘There will be an intensive debate about the monitoring and how we can see whether Greece can implement what we have agreed. If Greece does not implement the measures we have asked for then it won’t be able to return to growth.’