Greece bailout deal said to be step closer as ministers meet

He said that the Commission expected Greece to have reached a primary surplus - the budget balance before debt-servicing costs - previous year of above 3 percent of gross domestic product, much higher than required by creditors that had set a target of 0.5 percent for 2016.

"We can not consider our future outside the European Union and its hard core, the euro zone", the Greek president said, underlining the need of change for Greece and the EU.

Eurozone finance ministers meeting in the Maltese capital of Valletta said Athens agreed in principle to the new reforms and technical teams would visit Greece as soon as possible to seal the deal.

The deal is needed in order to stop the country from defaulting on its creditors this summer when Athens owes about seven billion euros in debt repayments. In a proposed compromise discussed on Tuesday, Greece would reduce its pension outlays by 1% of gross domestic product in 2019 and lower its tax-free threshold in 2020 by a similar amount, according to three European Union officials with knowledge of the talks.

In a statement after Friday's Eurogroup, the Washington-based institution said that there were "good prospects for successfully concluding discussions on outstanding policy issues".

The IMF has repeatedly said that Greece's debt is not sustainable and must be restructured, otherwise it will not participate in the bailout.

"We need a deal very quickly", Tsakalotos insisted, adding that "very few actors want a new Greek crisis".

Athens struck a deal with its worldwide lenders on Friday on the key elements of a reform package that could unlock bailout funds for the country, helping it repay debt that matures in July.

As part of its third worldwide bailout agreement, Greece has to make a series of sweeping reforms to its economy in return for the loans. But the talks have dragged on for months, freezing the latest loan payout and hurting the chances of a self-sustaining Greek economic recovery after years of recession and turmoil.

Greece has been bailed out three times since 2010.

In a press conference, the president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, announced that Greece promised to apply cuts to its pension system in 2019 and tax reforms in 2020.

To receive the money, successive governments slashed incomes, hiked taxes and implemented market reforms. The Greek parliament will probably start the debate on the measures in late April or early May.

  • Zachary Reyes