Eurozone lenders hopeful for Athens deal

Eurozone creditors show optimism after Monday’s emergency summit, as Greece offers new proposals to avert default

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Monday’s make or break meeting led by European Council President Donald Tusk over the Greek bailout talks, showed signs of achieving progress as leader of the 19 nation currency bloc described Greek proposals "a positive step forward".

The emergency summit called on by Tusk was organised in hopes of reaching a deal and avoiding an "uncontrollable chaotic Grexit.” If eurozone finance ministers approve a package by Wednesday evening, eurozone creditors could decide on whether to give it a final endorsement by Thursday morning, he stated. 

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the eurozone finance ministers, described the proposal as "a basis to really restart the talks.”

"I am assuming that this week we will find an agreement with Greece but it will not be easy," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday 

French President Francois Hollande also assured observers that Greece and its creditors were "moving towards an accord."

After five months of dragging negotiation talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a more cautious stance. In terms of a final agreement, she said "I can't give any guarantee that that will happen," and "There's still a lot of work to be done."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also continued to remained doubtful, as he told reporters that he had not seen any significant changes.

Greece offered higher taxes and welfare changes in its proposal, however, there are still no sign of reforms to electricity prices, pensions or wage cuts. Instead the Greek government has offered to increase the retirement age to 67. It has also offered to set the main rate of VAT to 23 percent.

Economics Minister George Stathakis told the BBC that Athens had avoided crossing "red lines" set by Syriza, since it would not cut pensions or wages nor raise the VAT rate on electricity.

After laying out the proposal, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras put the ball in the court of Greece’s creditors. "We are seeking a comprehensive and viable solution that will be followed by a strong growth package and at the same time render the Greek economy viable," he told reporters. According to EU sources, Tsipras has told leading members of the eurozone that he expects a deal “within 48 hours.”

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the euro zone finance ministers, described the proposal as "a basis to really restart the talks.”

TRTWorld and agencies