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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Virginia Mayo/AP/Press Association Images Michael Noonan with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos at a previous summit last year.
# Eurozone
As Greek talks continue, eurozone finance ministers to meet in Brussels
The finance ministers of eurozone states and the rest of the EU will hold their first meetings of the year this week.

MICHAEL NOONAN WILL join his fellow eurozone finance ministers in Brussels today for further discussions on the new EU fiscal treaty as well as talks on the restructuring of Greek debt.

Finance ministers will decide what terms of Greek debt restructuring they are ready to accept amid wranglings over what level of losses private bondholders will take with Reuters reporting they could take a real loss of between 65 and 70 per cent on their Greek bonds.

The talks were reported to hit a snag over the weekend with the Institute of International Finance – representing holders of debt – leaving Athens without a deal but continuing to carry out discussions and flesh out the details on the phone, BBC News reports.

Reducing Greece’s debt burden by imposing losses on bondholders is seen as crucial to ensuring that it can bring its debt down to a more sustainable 120 per cent of GDP in 2020 from 160 per cent now as well as receive funds from its second bailout to ensure it remains fully funded to 2014.

At present without that funding from a second bailout, Greece will not be able to pay back €14.5 billion of bonds that are maturing in March. Failure to do so would mean almost certain default.

After Greece, there will be discussions on the other pressing matter of the the proposed fiscal treaty – outlined last December – which will also involve the finance ministers of the 10 countries outside the eurozone.

Discussions will focus on whether or not debt and budget limits need to be enshrined in constitutions or via legislation.

While Ireland may prefer the legislative route, Germany is arguing in favour of constitutional enshrinement of the limits. Several drafts of the fiscal treaty have been circulating in recent weeks.

Last week it was reported that just 12 euro members’ would need to sign up to the treaty in order for it come into force.

Meanwhile, ahead of the first meeting of finance ministers in Brussels today, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble was in optimistic mood claiming that  markets were regaining confidence in the eurozone.

“This can be seen in the market reaction,” he said in an interview with German public television ARD. “We’re not yet in the clear, but we have seen in recent weeks and during recent bond sales that the markets are slowly regaining confidence.”

Gilmore: Ireland isn’t deliberately trying to dodge EU referendum >

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