EU optimistic on Greek debt deal

ATHENS: EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he is optimistic about concluding an overall deal on Greece’s latest bailout programme by the end of the year including discussions on debt relief. Moscovici spoke just days before a key meeting of euro zone finance ministers on December 5 to discuss Greece’s massive 86 billion euro bailout, its third since 2010. “This is doable, feasible,” Moscovici told journalists at the end of a two-day visit to Athens. However he said that “the precondition is to have pre-agreement this weekend involving all partners.”
“Greece has made significant progress, the second review is going forward well, I’m convinced to reach a staff agreement before the December fifth Euro group” meeting, he said. During the previous review of Greece’s reform programme in May, the EU and IMF agreed to start discussions on debt relief by the end of the year if Athens keeps its reform pledges. But influential Germany firmly opposes any new gestures to Athens, especially ahead of German elections later next year in which anti-EU populists could see a significant surge.
Greece’s leftist-led government is desperate to reach agreement with the creditors on the new fiscal measures before the end of the year in order to secure a pledge of debt relief, hoping it will kick-start the ailing economy. Athens is also hoping that a deal will persuade the European Central Bank to include Greek sovereign debt in its asset purchase programme, known as quantitative easing or QE. Without debt relief, the ECB will not grant Greece access to QE, and without this, the country will not be able to return to the debt markets by early 2018, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said. — AFP