Eurozone hopes for Greek reform deal next Thursday: Dijsselbloem
Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said a crucial eurozone ministers meeting to unlock bailout cash and trigger potential debt relief for Greece could take place as early as Thursday.
"If we have the (reform) package we can have a further Eurogroup next Thursday to come to a conclusion on the first review" of Greece's massive 86-billion-euro bailout plan, said Dijsselbloem after the finance ministers of the 19 countries that use the euro currency met in Amsterdam on Friday.
"On Greece, substantial progress has been made and we are very close to agreement," Dijsselbloem said adding, however, that "further work is needed"
Eurozone leaders also agreed to accept debate on ways of easing Greece's debt burden once the key reform pledges were met.
The possibility of debt relief is the only concession granted to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Greece's third bailout in five years, worth 86 billion euros ($95 billion) and agreed last July.
The 19 ministers met at the same time as crunch talks were underway in Athens between officials from Greece and the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF to close the long delayed first bailout review.
Key for a breakthrough in those talks are Greece delivering an extra set of reforms that would be triggered if Athens misses budget targets in 2018, a key demand by the IMF.
These so-called contingency measures "need to be based on objective measures that need to be measured and legislated," Dijsselbloem said.
© 2016 AFP