NEWS

Schaeuble says Eurogroup may fail to decide Greek aid next week [update]

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece?s government debt crisis isn?t solved yet and a meeting of euro-region finance ministers next week may fail to take a decision on unlocking funds for Greece.

?We?re not out of the woods yet,? Schaeuble said at a panel discussion in Hamburg Thursday with former chancellor Helmut Schmidt. ?At the moment, I don?t see how we can take the decision already next week.?

A 31.5 billion-euro ($40.2 billion) aid tranche for Greece has been frozen since June as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras?s coalition government haggled over austerity measures and a two- year extension to meet the fiscal targets in its March bailout accord. Samaras won approval for his austerity package late Wednesday from the Greek parliament in Athens.

Greece is under pressure to make more efforts to rein in its budget deficit and deregulate the economy. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel last month traveled to Athens to signal her willingness to keep the Greece in the euro, the country is still struggling to hit its debt-reduction targets amid a combination of Greek political resistance to more cuts and economic collapse that has brought record unemployment.

Greece has received 240 billion euros in aid pledges from the EU and the International Monetary Fund since 2010.

The trust regained in Europe?s ability to solve its problems is ?fragile? among investors, Schaeuble said. While Europe has ?substantial problems, we are on the way to gradually solve these problems,? he said at the conference organized by the German newspaper Die Zeit. [Bloomberg]