Eurozone ministers to hold extra meeting on May 9 about Greek bailout

Eurozone finance ministers will hold a special meeting on May 9 to review progress in negotiations between Greece and its bailout creditors, after months of arduous talks.

The meeting of their Eurogroup panel has been scheduled for 3 pm (1300 GMT) on May 9 in Brussels, spokesperson Michel Reijns wrote on Twitter late Thursday.

Greece and its creditors have struggled to agree on reforms and cost-cutting measures that would allow the country to continue receiving bailout aid. Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem had said the ministers would only meet if there is enough progress in the negotiations.

The talks have been complicated by a demand from the creditors for a set of new cost-cutting measures amounting to 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) - about 3.5 billion euros (4 billion dollars) - that would be implemented if Greece's finances go awry.

This comes on top of a previously required package of reforms and cost-cutting measures amounting to 3 per cent of Greece's GDP.

EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday in an interview with international news agencies that "we are 99 per cent of the way there" on the 3-per-cent package.

"Just a few elements need still to be finalized," he added.

The additional contingency measures are needed to give "that extra assurance and confidence" about Greece's future to eurozone countries, investors and markets, Dijsselbloem has said. But Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has warned that such an approach will prove challenging to implement under Greek law.

The two packages of measures would clear the way for the next tranche of aid to be disbursed under Greece's third, 86-billion-euro bailout. A highly anticipated discussion about further debt relief for Athens is also expected to be held in parallel.

There have been fears that Greece could return to the brink of bankruptcy if a breakthrough in the bailout negotiations is not achieved soon.

It has been four months since the cash-strapped country received its last aid disbursement. The money it still has will not be enough to cover 2.75 billion euros that it is supposed to pay in July to the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

But questions remained Friday about whether the May 9 meeting will finally deliver a deal.

"We believe, we continue to believe ... that all conditions are there to find an agreement soon," European Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said in Brussels on Friday. "We are working faithfully and loyally to conclude the [bailout] review as quickly as possible."

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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