Greece bailout: Eurozone calls for tighter oversight

People in Athens give their view on the country's situation

Eurozone finance ministers have demanded much greater oversight of Greece's economy in return for a 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout package.

In a three-hour conference call on Wednesday, the ministers scrutinised Greece's planned budget cuts.

The single currency bloc praised Greece's "substantial progress", but demanded more detail, including a full timeline for implementing the measures.

A decision on the bailout is expected to be finalised on Monday.

Greece faces a looming deadline in mid-March when it needs to make repayments on a 14.5bn-euro bond, or face bankruptcy.

The EU and IMF have demanded that Greece make deep cuts and restructure its economy in return for the bailout.

'Bottomless pit'

Speaking after a conference call between the 17 eurozone finance ministers on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the so-called Eurogroup, praised the progress Greece had made.

But he said more work was needed to strengthen oversight of how Greece would implement its austerity plans.


Some countries are demanding that the Greek economy must be put under much tighter surveillance, giving the eurozone far more control over what Greece does with its money.

That reflects scepticism that Greece will be willing or able to deliver on its promises of reform. In return, angry comments have emerged from Athens about demands made in Berlin and elsewhere.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos suggested that some countries want to see Greece leave the eurozone. Chancellor Merkel still says she wants Greece in, not least because she fears the alternative.

But if the eurozone manages to strengthen its bailout fund in the next few months, creating a more robust firewall to protect countries like Italy and Spain, then opinion could harden further. This current phase of the crisis could be Greece's last chance to stay in the euro-club.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels says the call reflects scepticism that Greece is willing or able to deliver on its promises of reform.

The "troika" of institutional lenders - the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) - had been demanding that Greece identify 325m euros of further spending cuts.

Mr Juncker said work on this had been carried out, including a timetable for implementation.

The ministers also insisted that the major Greek political parties promise in writing to implement the cuts, regardless of who wins a general election scheduled for April.

Leaders of the two main parties have now signed letters committing them to enacting the changes.

Meanwhile, President Karolos Papoulias hit out at German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose comments during the talks stirred anger in Greece.

"I do not accept having my country taunted by Mr Schaeuble, as a Greek I do not accept it," Mr Papoulias said.

Earlier, Mr Schaeuble said: "We can help, but we are not going to pour money into a bottomless pit."

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