EU chief in Greece for economy talks

Jose Manuel Barroso set to meet Greek PM amid concern whether debt-riven nation has done enough to get its next bailout.

    EU chief in Greece for economy talks
    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to ask for more time to repay its loans [Reuters]

    Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, will be in Athens for talks on Thursday amid concerns over whether Greece has done enough to have the next tranche of bailout loans.

    Barroso's first visit to Athens since the beginning of the debt crisis in three years comes as international lenders are also in Greece in an attempt to get deficit cutting measures "back on track".

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    Tensions are running high as over the past few days, numerous German high-ranking officials have publicly talked about Greece's possible default and exit from the eurozone, without being contradicted.

    A conservative German MP on Monday even suggested that the country should start paying half of its pensions and public salaries in drachmas, as part of a gradual exit from the eurozone.

    Many analysts see these comments as a way of putting more pressure on Greece and not as an immediate threat of the country exiting the eurozone.

    Inspectors from the EU and the IMF are trying to work out whether or not Greece has done enough to receive its next tranche of loan money.

    Auditors from the EU, IMF and ECB arrived in Athens to report on Greece's progress in implementting its structural reform programme, sidetracked after a three-month political deadlock following two elections.

    The report is expected to be made public at the end of August or early September.

    Without sufficient progress, it may not receive the final part of its bailout worth $38bn.

    Shrinking economy

    But in Brussels, as in Athens, most agree that Greece will not be able to reach the goals included in the second bailout package that it signed with its creditors last winter.

    Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Greece would suffer a much deeper recession than thought this year.

    He expects the economy to shrink by 7 per cent, greater than the 5 per cent forecast by the crisis-hit country's central bank.

    The conservative leader, who won June 17 elections, said Greece would not return to growth until 2014.

    The new Greek government has been asking for a two-year extension to implement the programme.

    According to Barroso's spokesperson his meeting with Samaras was to "discuss the overall economic situation in Europe and in particular in Greece".

    He said it was "a regular meeting" and that the preparation for the talks had been "under discussion for some time".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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