ECONOMY

Finance ministers, European Commission confident of agreement at Eurogroup

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European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said he is hopeful of an agreement at a Eurogroup that began on Friday afternoon in Brussels.

"We believe the program provides a basis for strong economic recovery provided it is fully implemented,” said Dombrovskis of the third bailout, which was voted through Greek Parliament ahead of eurozone finance ministers gathering in the Belgian capital.

"There are a number of questions still to be resolved, in terms of banking sector, in terms of financing needs. But we believe the technical agreement, which has been reached, provides a good basis for a political agreement today.

Dombrovskis was also confident that an agreement with the International Monetary Fund could be reached. The IMF indicated on Thursday that it would join the Greek program once the first review has taken place and there is an agreement on debt relief for Athens.

"IMF is on board as concerns program conditionality. We know that IMF has its own program, but we do not expect a formal decision on this today."

Schaueble

Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble signaled optimism euro-area finance ministers would back a new rescue program for Greece.

“I’m actually very confident that today we will reach a result,” Schaeuble told reporters on his way into the meeting. “The preparations have made good progress.”

Schaeuble stressed that the IMF’s involvement in the program is a prerequisite for Germany.

"We have to see that we can get a clear, possibly binding, commitment from the IMF,” he said. That's a prerequisite for us but we've always said that has to be feasible. The IMF has its own rules but we will have to find a way.

"I think that at the end of today we will have a result."

Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb also suggested that a compromise would be reached on Friday.

"There are a lot of nitty gritty issues to be solved today but I would be very surprised if we don't get agreement today," he said.

Dijsselbloem

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem identified a number of issues relating to the reforms that have been agreed that need to be examined. He also suggested that there would be no complications regarding the IMF’s involvement.

"There are some worries about recapitalizing banks which could be very expensive, the privatization fund and a third issue is the involvement of the IMF which is important for many countries," he said.

"It (the meeting) won't be short … There will be questions, there will be criticism, perhaps on issues that will have to be clarified or improved.

"Debt sustainability is certainly a major point of concern, certainly for the IMF. The IMF will also look at that and we will look at it closely in October and hopefully we can make sure that it is sustainable by then and give further guarantees, if necessary, so that the IMF can come on board in October.

"The IMF won't decide before October. I think we will hear today that the IMF is positive about the package."

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the discussion regarding debt relief should be expected in October.

"In autumn, this coming October, we will debate what is essential: a reprofiling of the Greek debt so that it's sustainable, acceptable, and which allows the Greek economy, the Greek budget, to breathe, to get back some oxygen, to recover economic activity," he said.