European finance ministers at a meeting in Brussels have voiced confidence that a second bailout for Greece can be approved. Meanwhile, leaders of a dozen countries are pulling for a greater focus on growth.
Finance ministers from across the eurozone edged closer on Monday evening to approving a second bailout for Greece, as leaders of 12 European countries called for more emphasis on boosting growth.
Arriving at the talks, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde praised Greece for austerity measures already in place, adding that more needed to be done. "Greece has evidently made great efforts and now we must continue the work," she said.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he was confident of a solution, although he added there were "a number of details" to be negotiated.
Greece's cabinet scraped together an additional 325 million euros ($428 million) in savings over the weekend to round off 3.3 billion euros in cuts, one of the conditions set by the EU in exchange for the release of a 130-billion-euro bailout. Brussels had also demanded that Athens make a written commitment to implementing austerity measures after April's parliamentary elections.
Greeceneeds the bailout in order to make debt repayments to the tune of 14.5 billion euros, which mature on March 20.
Appeal for deregulation and trade links
A dozen European Union leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Premier Mario Monti, called for a strategy to stimulate growth and help jolt the continent out of its current economic torpor in a letter to EU President Herman van Rompuy.
The document calls on EU nations to deregulate their service, research and energy sectors as well as working on stronger trade links with China, Russia and the United States.
"We meet in Brussels at a perilous moment for economies across Europe," began the letter, which was also signed by the leaders of Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia Spain and Sweden. Notably, France and Germany were not among the signatories.
"The field in the EU must be enlarged, we do not feel the need to restrict ourselves to these two partners," said Monti, referring to Berlin and Paris as he heralded the new proposals.
rc/mz (AP, AFP Reuters)