Greek leaders agree new cuts deal

 

Taking negotiations to the eleventh hour, Greece has announced an agreement on new austerity cuts demanded by its international creditors to release a €130 billion (£109 billion) bailout, shortly before a crucial meeting of finance ministers in Brussels.

A statement from Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' office said talks "were successfully concluded" with representatives of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - collectively known as the "troika".

The statement said leaders of the parties backing Papademos' coalition government had accepted the outcome of the talks with the three organisations.

"Therefore, there is a general agreement on the content of the new (bailout), ahead of tonight's meeting" of finance ministers from the 17 eurozone members in Brussels, the statement said.

A spokeswoman for Papademos' office said the deal will allow alternatives to the pension cuts rejected earlier during a marathon meeting of coalition party leaders.

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, confirmed the latest stage in the austerity talks, telling reporters at a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany that the Greek party leaders had accepted the terms of the deal.

Although all the other cuts demanded by the troika were approved - including a 22% cut in the minimum wage, firings 15,000 of civil servants and an end to dozens of job guarantee provisions - party leaders had resisted new pension cuts worth an estimated 300 million euro (£251 million), leaving the bailout in limbo and the threat of bankruptcy high.

The deal came shortly after Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos arrived in Brussels for talks on the new bailout with his colleagues from the 17 euro countries.

"It is up to the eurogroup to decide at the highest level if the conditions are in place to proceed with the second (bailout) programme," said Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, a spokesman for the European Commission, one of the three institutions charged with negotiating the rescue conditions.

Also attending the meeting in Brussels will be Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and Draghi.

Greece needs the bailout by March 20 to redeem 14.5 billion euro (£12.1 billion) worth of bonds coming due.

A forced bankruptcy then would likely lead to the country's exit from the euro common currency, a situation that European officials have insisted is impossible because it would hurt other weak countries like Portugal, Ireland and Italy.

But financial analysts fear a chain reaction similar to the financial meltdown triggered by the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008.

Greece has been kept solvent since May 2010 by payments from a 110 billion euro (£92 billion) international rescue loan package. When it became clear the money would not be enough, a second bailout was decided last October.

There is considerable resistance in Greece to further austerity, after two years of vicious spending cuts that have failed to drastically improve the state finances - instead fuelling galloping unemployment and a deep recession.

Angry union leaders announced a 48-hour general strike for Friday and Saturday.

Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary-general of the ADEDY civil servant union, said the AP protest rallies will be held outside Parliament in central Athens on the two days, and on Sunday when MPs are expected to vote on the new austerity measures.

Previous anti-austerity protests have turned violent.

AP

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?