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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 24 March, 2018

Can Michael Noonan help save the eurozone from economic disaster?

The Finance Minister is back in Brussels today for the deadline of Greece’s bailout.

THE FINANCE MINISTER is back in Brussels today to meet with his European colleagues to try and prevent a eurozone crisis.

The meeting today will see 19 finance minister from across the eurozone come together for the third meeting in just over a week to try and prevent Greece from running out of money.

Negotiations have been ongoing between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – with a lengthy phone call taking place last night that AFP are reporting “appeared to calm the waters”.

Germany Carnival A float in Germany's Rose Monday celebrations this week showing Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras attacking German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is portrayed as a cyclops Source: Frank Augstein/Press Association

Greece made a proposal earlier this week in which the country would comply with an extension of their bailout but with greater flexibility built in. This saw the Greeks make a number of concessions on their earlier demands.

While this received a positive airing from the European Commission and other interested parties – Germany, and in particular their Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, were less receptive and felt that the agreement represented a ‘Trojan Horse’ deal, with Greece being unclear on a number of points with the aim of securing bridge financing.

If a deal is not struck today it could lead to further damage to the euro, which is already down , and may see Greece exit the eurozone.

How big is Michael Noonan’s role in all of this? 

While not a playing as central a role as those in the Greek and German camps – our Finance Minister’s position is still significant.

michael noonan Source: Photocall Ireland

He has been named by Business Insider as one of 18 key players in the Greek crisis negotiations. The reasons for this is Ireland’s position as a country that has imposed tough austerity measures and now appears to be coming out the other side.

Alongside the Spanish Finance Minister, Luis de Guindos, Noonan is backing the current bailout deal that is being imposed on Greece.

The Minister is expected to fly out to Brussels at around 11am today and make a statement before the meeting begins at around three o’clock.

In a additional bit of Irish interest, it turns out Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is a fan of playwright Samuel Beckett – having gone to see a performance of one his plays on Tuesday.

Will a deal be struck today? 

There is a sense that today’s talks represent the last chance for a resolution between Greece and the rest of the eurozone.

Today marks the end of their current bailout programme. Without further financing Greece faces the prospect of running out of money.

Part of the reason given for the difficulty has been the clash in styles between stoical German Finance Minister Schaeuble and his more casual Greek counterpart Varoufakis.

The rejection of Athens’ earlier concessions drew a strong reaction – with Greece saying today’s meeting would offer “just two choices. To accept or reject the Greek request”.

It is hoped that things may take a less belligerent tone after last night’s discussion between Alexis Tsipras and Angela Merkel yesterday evening.

There was calm in the financial markets today following last night’s phone call between Alexis Tsipras and Angela Merkel.  

- Additional reporting by AFP 

Read: Euro leaders are giving Greece until Friday to sign on the dotted bailout line

Also: Did Ireland kiss a better debt deal goodbye?

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