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EU’s Moscovici hails Greek austerity vote as ‘key step’

Pierre Moscovici - box copy

 

Paris / AFP

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Monday hailed a new batch of Greek austerity measures as “key” to unlocking bailout funds.
“A key step has been taken… towards the conclusion of the first stage of the Greek programme,” Moscovici said in Paris, a day after Greek lawmakers voted in favour of spending cuts and tax hikes.
Eurozone finance ministers are set to discuss easing Greece’s debt burden and disbursing the next round of funds at a closely-watched Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.
“I hope and wish for an agreement at the Eurogroup meeting,” he told a news conference.
Greece and its European Union creditors are locked in talks on how to reduce the country’s debt burden, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said must happen if it is to contribute any more of its own funds.
The IMF said last week that Greece would need a lengthy period free from debt payments to achieve sustainable finances if the bloc does not agree to cutting the debt up front.
But EU economic powerhouse Germany has been deeply opposed to alleviating any of Athens’ debt.
It believes Greece should be granted relief only in 2018, once it has fully complied with the EU bailout, according to a finance ministry document seen by AFP.
Greece urgently needs the next tranche of bailout money to repay big loans to the European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF in July, and has already fallen behind in paying for everyday government duties and public sector wages. German financial daily Handelsblatt has said Athens could receive between nine and 11 billion euros if a deal is struck this week.

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