Eurozone finance ministers will seek agreement Monday on unlocking vital loan aid for Greece, amid pressure to go much further and leverage their rescue funding into a war-chest worth trillions.
The 17 countries that share the debt-challenged euro currency will meet in Luxembourg from 1500 GMT on Monday, with their priority to reach an understanding about whether Greece should get an eight-billion-euro loan, blocked by the IMF for the past month.
International auditors spent the weekend trying to obtain the most accurate, up-to-date picture of Greece’s finances and forecasts, after protests, including staff occupations of ministries, meant a slow resumption of negotiations last week.
The auditors returned to Athens on Thursday, four weeks after an abrupt departure, expressing concerns about spending discrepancies and disappointment at a lack of progress, for instance in privatizing state businesses.
European Union economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn will give the ministers the inside track on what the Washington-based IMF wants to do, as looming recession risks turning Greece’s crisis into global catastrophe.
There remains the specter of imminent default, as anticipated by markets treating Greek sovereign bonds as monopoly bets.
Their expectation is that the European Central Bank, soon under new Italian management, will step back in.