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Greece set for next loan and second bailout

Eurozone finance heads discussed the Greek crisis late into the night but what will it all mean for Ireland’s interests?

A protester with a mask of prime minister George Papandreou prepares himself as a marionettes prior to a protest in Athens.
A protester with a mask of prime minister George Papandreou prepares himself as a marionettes prior to a protest in Athens.
Image: Markus Schreiber/AP/Press Association Images

GREECE WILL HAVE to pass some €28 billion of austerity measures if it is to receive the next tranche of its European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout as European finance ministers also committed to a second bailout to keep the country afloat.

At meetings that went on late in to the night in Luxembourg, ministers said they expected the next tranche of the €110 billion loan deal agreed last year – around €12 billion – would be paid out by mid-July.

But this will be subject to spending cuts and economic reforms – to the tune of €28 billion between 2012 and 2015 – passing the Greek parliament. A vote of confidence in the government of prime minister George Papandreou is due on Tuesday.

As the Wall Street Journal reports the agreement to pay loan installments should be routine but “nothing is routine in Greece” with concern that the country was veering too far off track meaning the IMF was hesitant to pay and noting that the EU monitoring mission spent weeks in Athens.

For Ireland, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has been lobbying for any solution to the Greek debt crisis not to have any ill-effects for Ireland, reports the Irish Independent.

The paper says the comments were a signal that Ireland will try to block any measure imposed on Greece that could act as a template for tough action against Ireland if it also needs a second bailout.

Finance ministers who met in Brussels concluded that Greece was unlikely to return to the markets by early 2012 – so a second bailout will be needed, according to BBC News.

The new aid package will be outlined by early July.

Earlier, it was reported that thousands of people gathered outside the parliament building in Athens to protest against any further cuts.

Reuters reports officials as saying that the new loans will fund the country into late 2014 and will total about €120 billion – this will comprise €60 billion of official loans, €30 billion from the private sector and €30 billion from the privatisation of Greek state assets.

Greek prime minister George Papandreou had earlier said the second bailout would be “roughly equal” to the first bailout agreed last year.

He dismissed any calls to default on the country’s massive debt, saying this would be “a catastrophe for households and banks alike” and made it clear he would not back off from efforts to reduce the debt.

The meeting of the 17 eurozone nations came after a tumultuous week that saw rioting on the streets of Athens, a Greek cabinet reshuffle and days of market turmoil that sent borrowing costs spiking.

A default by Greece could cause ripples around the world, disrupting the global economy similarly to the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

- additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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