ECONOMY

Barroso sees progress over collateral deal row

A disagreement among eurozone governments over a collateral agreement between Greece and Finland that has threatened to derail the 8-billion-euro loan installment Athens expects next month, should be resolved ?very soon,? the European Commission chief said on Tuesday.

?There was progress at the expert level just yesterday [Monday],? Jose Manuel Barroso told a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, adding that details of the deal should be fine tuned ?very soon.?

The unilateral deal reached between Greece and Finland for the debt-wracked country to provide guarantees in exchange for financial assistance has raised eyebrows among the wealthier eurozone nations like Germany and the Netherlands, the public of which are hostile at the prospect of fresh handouts to their profligate Mediterranean peers.

The Portuguese official also called upon leaders of the euro area to accelerate the implementation of decisions reached at an emergency euro summit in Brussels last month.

In July, eurozone leaders agreed to provide Greece 109 billion euros in fresh aid, with the private sector pitching in another 50 billion euros. They also agreed to expand the role of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which was set up last year to help shore up the community’s debt-ridden countries.

?The implementation of these decisions is crucial for the European Union as a whole,? Barroso told journalists.

Barroso’s optimism matched remarks made a day earlier by the head of eurozone finance ministers.

Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also the prime minister of Luxembourg, on Monday said that the collateral issue will not spoil the bailout deal and that he expected a solution within days or weeks.

“The Eurogroup is working on a proposal, which I hope all eurozone member states will be happy with,» Juncker told lawmakers.