EUROPE’S financial chiefs have asked for more time today to consider the new proposals put forward by Greece in an effort to rescue the nation’s bailout and keep its place in the Eurozone.
Over the weekend Greece made key concessions to their creditors – the European Commission, the European Central Banks and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – who have been demanding further austerity cuts. The new plans included an agreement to increase VAT and raise the retirement age to 67.
In return, Greece would get an extension on the country’s bailout by six months, with an extra €18 billion in funds. The Syriza government and the EU face a crunch deadline of June 30, the date Greece is due to make a repayment of €1.6 billion to the IMF. Without the funds in the coffers to meet that, the nation’s bankruptcy and exit from the EU would be likely.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the group of Eurozone countries who debated the new proposals for little over an hour today before the meeting broke up, said it had been a positive step, and “a basis to really get a result.”
There are sticking points, reported to include Greece’s insistence on keeping a lower rate of VAT for medicine and books.
European heads of state are due to meet this evening, although it’s unclear how that meeting will proceed given the finance ministers’ request for more time.