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Juncker voorziet bilaterale leningen aan Griekenland als oplossing onderhandelingen (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 16 maart 2010, 9:23.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Euro area finance ministers offered up just a smidgen more information on the shape of a potential Greek bail-out after their meeting on Monday (15 March), while being at pains to stress that any such mechanism will most likely be unnecessary.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the monthly meetings of eurozone finance ministers, suggested that any financial aid to Greece could take the form of bilateral loans from a number of eurozone countries.

"What will happen if necessary, and we're still convinced it won't be necessary, is that we'll reach an agreement in the eurozone to offer bilateral support in a co-ordinated form," he told journalists late on Monday evening, adding that the Greek authorities have not yet asked for financial support.

The statement indicates that member states have ruled out the possibility of providing loan guarantees, a previously discussed option. Mr Juncker said European leaders meeting in Brussels later this month would finalise the plans.

"There are still some technical points. We agreed that the final decision will be taken by the European Council [of EU leaders]," he said.

The group's wariness in providing greater details or definitively signing off on a bail-out mechanism is symptomatic of domestic constraints and concerns over sending the wrong message to financial markets, say observers.

Polls suggest that a majority of German voters oppose giving any financial aid to Greece, while Berlin is reportedly worried that a final agreement on a support mechanism would suggest to markets that a bail-out is imminent.

France too has stressed that recent austerity measures taken by Athens will be enough to bring down Greece's deficit, eventually calming investors' fears and reducing the country's borrowing costs.

"There is no such thing as a bail-out plan that would have been approved, agreed or otherwise, because there is no need for such a thing," French finance minister Christine Lagarde said in the run-up to Monday's meeting.

The full complement of EU finance ministers are expected on Tuesday to back plans announced by Athens this month to slash spending and increase taxes in a bid to save a further €4.8 billion, in addition to previous measures announced in February.

Greece's financing crisis may come to a head next month however, with a sizable portion of the country's debt obligations due to mature. Athens ran a budget deficit of 12.7 percent of GDP last year, over three times the allowed EU limit, and holds a debt pile in excess of 100 percent of GDP.

A €5 billion bond issuance was successful this month, but the Greek administration is keen not to offer the expensive 6.25 percent interest rate again in the future.

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