| STRASBOURG, France
STRASBOURG, France Oct 4 The European
Commission would like euro zone governments to reach a deal on
the details of debt relief for Greece by the end of the year to
boost its economic growth, European Commissioner for Economic
and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a
debate on Greece, Moscovici said however, such a deal required
an effort from all sides, including the government in Athens,
which has to push on with agreed reforms.
"By the end of the year I would like to see, to strike an
agreement on debt," Moscovici told parliamentarians.
"That is indeed legitimate and has been long awaited, that
requires an effort to be made on all sides, creditors, all
partners in the Eurogroup and also the Greek authorities when it
comes to implementing the reform programme," he said.
Following a restructuring of privately-held Greek bonds in
2012, euro zone governments are now, through their bailout fund,
the main owners of Greek debt. The Commission itself does not
hold any Greek bonds.
In May, euro zone governments offered Greece debt relief in
2018, but left key details to be decided later in an attempt to
bridge Germany's view that no immediate action was needed and
the International Monetary Fund's call for decisions now.
The year-end deadline for agreeing on the details of debt
relief is seen as ambitious by euro zone officials because such
details have to be based on a debt sustainability analysis and
one will only be made after Greece passes a review of its reform
This review has been dragging on for months, although senior
euro zone officials expect that reforms needed to complete it
are likely to be legislated by Greece this week, in time for
euro zone ministers to approve them when they meet on Oct 10.
An even bigger hurdle is that the biggest euro zone economy
Germany wants the IMF to join the latest, third bailout
programme for Greece, for credibility reasons.
But the Washington-based lender of last resort says it can
only do so if a debt analysis shows Greek debt is sustainable,
and it can only show that if Athens gets debt relief now.
Berlin is loath to the idea of debt relief before German
federal elections in autumn 2017 because after six years of a
debt crisis and three bailouts offered to Athens, public opinion
in Germany, the biggest contributor to the bailouts, is against
more leniency to Greece.
Euro zone officials said that in a pessimistic scenario, no
details of Greek debt relief would be agreed until after the
Others say a deal could be reached if the Greek debt crisis
flares up again after the Greek government runs out of money to
service its obligations in April 2017.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)