ECONOMY

Asmussen in Greece for talks as debate over bailout’s future is rekindled

European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen is due to meet Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras in Athens on Wednesday.

The meeting comes in the wake of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble admitting that Greece would need a third bailout.

Greek Finance Ministry sources said a range of issues, including possible debt relief, would be discussed during the meeting between Stournaras and Asmussen.

The 2014-15 funding gap, which the International Monetary Fund estimates at 10.9 billion euros, will also be discussed.

The possibility of Greece adopting further fiscal measures in 2015 and 2016 is also expected to be on the agenda.

The Greek side is also keen to discuss the progress of the European banking union, given that it could lead to the 50 billion euros Athens has borrowed to recapitalize its lenders being passed over to the European Stability Mechanism rather than being recorded as national debt.

Asmussen’s visit to Athens comes about month before the German federal elections and the date when troika officials are due to return to the Greek capital to review the progress of the adjustment program.

“In the run-up to the next troika review mission, ECB Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen will visit Athens for bilateral meetings with Greek policy makers and representatives of society and the business community to discuss the Greek adjustment programme and wider euro area developments,» the ECB said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

Asmussen also visits Athens after Schaeuble admitted at an election campaign event on Tuesday that Greece will need further loans.

“There will have to be another programme in Greece,» Schaeuble said on Tuesday during a rally in Ahrensburg. «They are not out of the woods yet.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Greece’s situation would be reassessed at the end of this year or beginning of 2014.

European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn also said that Greece’s needs would be examined following the troika review next month.