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Published: Sat, December 03, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Top EU finance officials in Greece to nudge for deal

Top EU finance officials in Greece to nudge for deal

Greek government officials said this week that there were still differences between Athens and its lenders on fiscal targets and labour and energy reforms.

Moscovici said it is "absolutely feasible" the staff agreement to close in the following days.

"I think we are very close to an agreement".

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, in a move likely to anger Athens and the International Monetary Fund, warned yesterday (7 November) it would be impossible to draw up fresh debt relief for Greece by year's end.

Greece and its worldwide lenders are nearing the conclusion of the second review of the third Greek bailout program, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Union (EU) Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said Monday during talks here.

"We believe that it is possible.to maintain it for a few years after 2018 and we have to find the right mix between maintaining the primary surplus at such a high level and providing the debt measures", he told Skai TV in an interview.

It is time for Greece to reap the benefits of its efforts to overcome the seven-year debt crisis, Moscovici added, expressing optimism that soon Greek people would be able to take a breath, as the ailing economy would return to sustainable growth and jobs would be created.

However, Athens's case for debt relief received a boost Monday after senior European officials said a solution was overdue. Athens hopes for inclusion in the European Central Bank's asset-purchasing programme (QE) in the first quarter of 2017, he said.

Greece says it can not accept more austerity after 2018 and wants to be included in the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme in the first quarter of 2017 to regain market access by the end of that year.

"All stake holders in the Greek adjustment program realize that there are serious concerns about the sustainability of the Greek public debt", he told a business conference in Athens ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The goal is to "ultimately restore market access for Greece before the [present European Union bailout] ends in July 2018", Coeure said.

Despite strong opposition by Germany, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem has said "short-term debt measures" could be discussed in December.

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