Finnish stance remains a thorn

Finland?s insistence on collateral remains the biggest thorn in the granting of the new EU aid package to Greece, but the European Commission indicated on Tuesday that negotiations are making progress.

?There was progress at the expert level just yesterday,? Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a press conference, expressing hope that the final details would be ironed out ?very soon.?

However, Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said that since a solution appeared impossible on a technical level, the issue would be referred to the next Eurogroup meeting of September 16.

A German government spokesman, meanwhile, used strong language against Helsinki. ?The demand for collateral for the bailout of an economy could prove fatal. Eurozone governments must talk to Finland regarding its demands,? he said.

The German newspaper Handelsblatt, quoting diplomatic sources, said Klaus Regling, head of the European Financial Stability Facility, which will give the new loan to Greece, proposed that the government give as collateral its shares in Greek banks.