Greek bailout talks make major breakthrough on reforms

"We have an agreement on the overarching elements of policy in terms of size, timing and sequencing of the reforms", Dijsselbloem said on Friday.

Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday that there's been "significant progress" in talks with the Greek government after the latter agreed to legislate reforms affecting the country's pension system and widen the country's tax base.

Though Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said agreement had been reached on the basic issues that would allow bailout inspectors to return to Athens to iron out remaining issues, he warned of more hardship ahead for austerity-weary Greeks.

"The big blocks have now been sorted out and that should allow us to speed up and go for the final stretch", said Dijsselbloem.

Once that review is finalized, Greece will receive fresh disbursements from the 86 billion euro ($91.40 billion) bailout program.

"Today is an important day, the moment when everyone has to commit to the details of a good agreement", EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in Malta.

Greece has to agree on budget measures to get access to its loans.

An agreement among eurozone ministers would go a long way towards getting the International Monetary Fund on board as a financial partner in the bailout, a major demand of Germany, Greece's biggest lender.

Greece and its worldwide creditors took a big step Friday toward an agreement that will ensure the country gets the money it needs to avoid a potential bankruptcy this summer but which could spell more pain for austerity-weary Greeks.

The IMF previously said Greek's debt load is unsustainable and called for a some relief.

Still, even once the creditors return to the Greek capital, other technical issues, including reforms to the energy sector, will also need to be agreed on before the review can be completed.

The finance minister noted that Friday's agreement was the result of a compromise and, as all compromises, will contain both elements that satisfied but also elements that did not satisfy the Greek side and especially the Greek people. While Greece doesn't face any imminent liquidity trouble, it still has to meet the debt payments in July, while the uncertainty over its bailout weighs on the country's economy. But the talks have dragged on for months, freezing the latest loan payout and hurting chances of a Greek economic recovery after years of recession and turmoil.

"We will start discussing the Greek debt, and that's going to be a very complicated discussion", the official said. These will require approval by Greece's parliament, where Tsipras holds a three-seat majority.

  • Leroy Wright


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT