The Greek Parliament was due to vote on the latest bailout deal early on Friday morning after fractious debate among MPs and shortly before the Eurogroup is due to convene in Brussels on Friday afternoon.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and other ministers defended the new loan program in Parliament on Thursday.
Tsakalotos conceded that the package included “difficult measures” but said he had tried to space out their implementation to ease the impact. The government will implement most of the budget-trimming measures in 2017, not this year and next year, he said.
In a clear dig at rebels in the ranks of SYRIZA, Tsakalotos said that failure to approve the deal in Greece’s Parliament would oblige him to accept a bridge loan when he meets with his eurozone counterparts in Brussels on Friday for a scheduled meeting to discuss Greece.
Eurozone finance ministers will on Friday have to choose between approving a three-year bailout for Greece or opting for a bridge loan, which would allow the country to cover its immediate debt commitments without offering the stimulus funds and prospects of debt relief that Athens hopes a new bailout will bring.
The European Commission indicated that it was in favor of the former option with EC President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeting, “All documents for ESM program for Greece now sent to the EU council ahead of Friday’s Eurogroup.”
During a conference call involving senior European Union finance ministry officials last night, the atmosphere was positive, Kathimerini understands. Greece’s representative, Giorgos Houliarakis, was asked many questions relating to the implementation of the new program and other issues.
There were also positive noises from the Finnish camp, which had been among the staunchest critics of Greece. “I got today a mandate to approve the third package for Greece,” Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb told reporters in Helsinki after the country’s Parliamentary Grand Committee – consisting of 25 of the legislatures 200 MPs – gave their approval. In an interview with Bloomberg, Stubb said, “Things are looking much better right now.”