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Greece - European Union

EU ministers support fallback Greek aid

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou (L) with France's Christine Lagarde and Belgium's Didier Reynders
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou (L) with France's Christine Lagarde and Belgium's Didier Reynders Reuters

European Union ministers in Brussels bcked a Eurozone deal to help Greece in its struggle to control its finances but stressed that it is a last resort and is unlikely to be enacted;

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The European ministers stressed that the package is just a contingency plan. They say they that it will only be enacted if the stability of the euro is threatened.

Groaning under 300 billion euros of debt, Greece is looking to raise 54 billion euros this year just to finance this figure. European diplomatic sources say 20 to 25 billion euros are being sought through eurozone aid.

Athens is wary of crisis loans at dissuasively high interest rates and has already complained that the more than six per cent yield on bonds it sells on international markets is too high.

"It is clear that we are not happy paying the kind of markups and spreads we are paying at the moment," Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said in Brussels.

EU partners argue that any aid to Greece will come at a heavy price. They are to decide on the detail of the mooted financial lifeline during a meeting on the 25 and 26 March but they have already made is clear that there is no rush to come up with the funds.

If money is ever released, it will be by all 15 of Greece's partners in the euro currency area and only if ordered by leaders of the 27 EU nations.
 

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