Greece: The ball is in Europe’s court on debt deal

Eurozone leaders review reform proposals, just a week before Greece faces default and possible exit from the EU.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has told European leaders “the ball is in your court”, as the clock ticks towards the deadline for a crucial bailout deal. 

Eurozone leaders have expressed cautious optimism that a Greek bailout could be sealed this week after Greece offered economic reforms that creditors considered potentially acceptable at an emergency summit in Brussels.

Tsipras presented a proposal on Monday that was expected to be reviewed by Thursday when all 28 EU leaders will meet to consider the offer.

Rabobank strategist Jane Foley told Al Jazeera that the fact that the Greek government had put something on the table had given the markets some optimism.

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“We’re closer now than we have ever been and the market reflects that,” Foley said.

However, Foley said Greece still had “a long way to go” and the deal could be a short-term fix.

“It’s very likely that Greece’s problems will keep them coming into the headlines for the next five years. A lot of investment has been put off by the shenanigans that have been going on this year.”

Greece’s proposals include higher taxes and welfare charges that EU leaders welcomed as a basis for a possible agreement to unlock frozen aid.

Greece and its creditors had exactly one week to go on Tuesday before Athens was due to repay the International Monetary Fund (IMF) around $1.7bn or face default and a possible exit from the EU.

The Greek proposal sent to Brussels overnight was a last-ditch bid to unlock the final 7.2 billion euro ($8.1bn) tranche of its international bailout, which creditors have refused to release unless Greece agrees to more austerity measures.

At the Brussels summit, EU countries ordered their finance ministers to hold fresh talks on Wednesday to thrash out the details ahead of Thursday’s full meeting of EU leaders.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “convinced” the EU could end the five-month stand-off with Tsipras’ government.

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“I’m convinced that we will come to a final agreement in the course of this week, for the simple reason that we have to find an agreement this week,” Juncker told a press conference.

Tsipras said Greece needed to continue the negotiations for “a few days, a few hours, the next two days”.

“That’s precisely because we don’t want a fragmented short-term agreement, we’re seeking a comprehensive and viable solution,” he said.

Donald Tusk, the EU president, described the offer as the “first real proposals for many weeks” from the Greek government, which had earlier resisted calls by creditors for further cuts to pensions and changes to taxes.

Giorgos Stathakis, Greek economy minister, said on Monday that the proposal adhered to the Greek government’s determination not to cut pensions further.

Al Jazeera’s Phil Lavelle, reporting from the European Council in Brussels, said “this is about showing solidarity, being slightly bullish, convincing the world the Eurozone is strong, dissuading speculators from pulling out of Greece”.

The IMF is one of three Greek creditors, along with the European Commission and European Central Bank.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera


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