Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

November 26, 2012

Euro officials seek way to unlock Greek crisis

BRUSSELS (AP) — Finance ministers from the 17 European Union countries that use the euro are trying to hammer out a deal Monday in Brussels on the next installment of bailout money for struggling Greece.

The ministers have failed twice in the last two weeks to reach an agreement to release some €44 billion ($56.8 billion) for the cash-strapped country.

Greece is living on borrowed time — it still owes money it was supposed to repay last week.

On his way into the meeting, Olli Rehn, the EU's top financial official, said it was important for the ministers and the International Monetary Fund to agree on a deal. Distributing the next batch of loans was essential, he said, "in order to end the uncertainty that's still hanging over Greece. It's important for Greece, important for Europe."

"I want to encourage all the euro area member states and the IMF to go the last mile to find an agreement — in fact to go the last centimeter, because we are so close," Rehn said. "Greece has delivered. Now it is the delivery time for the eurogroup and the IMF."

The so-called troika of the European Central Bank, IMF and the European Commission, which is the 27-country EU's executive arm, have twice agreed to bail out Greece, pledging a total of €240 billion in rescue loans. In return for its bailout loans, Greece has had to impose several rounds of austerity measures and submit its economy to scrutiny.

Greece's fortunes are inextricably tied to the rest of the eurozone. Without the bailout funds that have been keeping it afloat since May 2010, the country would default and could end up having to leave the eurozone. This could have a domino effect on other financially troubled eurozone nations.

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