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Eurozone Ministers Meet Again To Unlock Aid To Greece

November 26, 2012 RTTnews
Eurozone finance ministers will meet again in Brussels later today to finalize a deal to clear the next tranche of financing for Greece after failing to forge an agreement on November 21. Once the deal is struck, lenders will release a loan installment worth EUR 31.5 billion to the troubled euro nation.

The ministers held a conference call on Saturday to clear the hurdles before the Monday meeting. Speaking to the French media on Sunday, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the Eurogroup is close to a deal.

Pointing out that a solution is "possible" at the meeting, the minister said "we made strong progress", meaning the Europeans will have a common position" at today's discussions.

After last week's meeting, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said the ministers have made progress in identifying "a consistent package of credible initiatives aimed at making a further substantial contribution to the sustainability of Greek government debt."

The disagreements between the creditors were far more evident in the recent meetings with the European Central Bank and Germany refusing to accept a Greek debt write off while the International Monetary Fund was reluctant to approve a two-year extension to the Greek bailout program, which may leave a funding gap of around EUR 32.6 billion.

Leaders of the bloc's twenty-seven member states failed to reach an agreement on the region's seven-year budget at a two-day European Union summit that ended in Brussels on Friday. The European Commission had initially proposed a budget of EUR 1.03 trillion for 2014-2020, representing a five percent increase over the 2007-2013 budget.

Nevertheless, EU President Herman Van Rompuy submitted new proposals to EU leaders on Friday, including a revised budget of EUR 973 billion. However, the President failed to persuade the main contributor nations to agree to the budget, which was just one percent of the bloc's total economic output.

At the same time, voters in Spain's wealthy autonomous region of Catalonia have backed separatist parties seeking independence for the region in Sunday's provincial elections, according to preliminary results announced after the completion of the counting of more than 99 percent of the polled votes.

Catalonia is the most indebted of Spain's 17 autonomous regions. It had requested for an EUR 5 billion bailout on August 28 from Madrid's EUR 18-billion rescue fund. Three other Spanish regions, namely Andalusia, Valencia and Murcia, have also sought funding from the central government.