MEPs warn of 'devastating results' without debt relief

TAGS: Politics, Economy

European lawmakers supportive of Greece’s left-wing government are urging the European Commission to act swiftly on debt relief for the bailed out eurozone member, warning that delays would produce ‘devastating results’ for its economy.

In a letter Thursday to EU Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, 36 lawmakers from Greece’s ruling SYRIZA party and European allies parties urged the EU to press eurozone bailout lenders to start negotiating new terms on the whopping 315 billion euro ($347.5 billion) Greek national debt. That would entail longer maturities and a smoother repayment schedule.

"Any further delays regarding the beginning of a concrete and conclusive dialogue on debt relief could have devastating results on the Greek economy and counteract even the modest decrease of unemployment and poverty levels and delay any improvement of the social and economic situation for the coming period," the letter said.

Creditors are committed to improving terms, but lead eurozone lender Germany and the International Monetary Fund are at odds over the urgency, with several eurozone members arguing that Greece already has generous repayment terms and has delayed vital structural reforms.

In Athens, Greek Economy Minister George Stathakis told parliament on Wednesday that without relief the national debt would be "not viable" in 2017 even if government meets ambitious budget targets that include an end to years of recession and stagnation.

"We are at a key moment, because the debt sustainability calculation depends on strong assumptions. But certain issues need to be resolved and decisions need to be taken now to determine that sustainability," Stathakis said.

"It needs to be sorted out by Christmas, otherwise it won’t work." [AP]