Business World

Thursday 18 January 2018

Greek Crisis: Marathon talks set to dominate Eurogroup meeting

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

There's likely to be only one big story this week, and that's Greece once again.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan will travel to Brussels on Wednesday for an emergency meeting of Eurozone finance ministers.

It will provide the first opportunity for the new Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, to lay out the Greek government's plan for the country in front of representatives from each of the 19 Euro-area countries.

But it's unlikely to be an easy meeting.

Eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Friday that Eurozone governments won't allow a bridging loan to keep the country afloat while it renegotiates the terms of its bailout.

"We don't do" bridge loans, Dijsselbloem told reporters in The Hague, when asked about Greece's request. "A simple extension is possible as long as they fully take over the programme."

The EU's rebuff raises the stakes for Greece's new government, which has already failed in its demands for a debt write-down.

Mr Varoufakis has said his government won't accept any more cash under the terms of Greece's existing bailout, leaving €7bn of potential aid on the table, rather than complying with demands for more austerity attached to the country's international bailout agreement.

The stand-off risks leaving Europe's most-indebted state without any funding as of the end of this month, following the election victory of Alexis Tsipras's Syriza party last month.

The meeting in Brussels on Wednesday kicks off at 4.30pm Irish time. It's likely to run late into the evening. But it will have to give way to an informal heads of government meeting in Brussels the following day, when EU leaders are expected to discuss the EU's fight against terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris.

There will also be a discussion on how to strengthen economic co-ordination and the smooth functioning of the Economic Monetary Union, and Greece will obviously dominate discussions on this front.

Leaders are also expected to discuss the situation in Ukraine, with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande expected to reflect on their joint mission to Moscow last week.

At home, KBC Bank Ireland will set out its results on Thursday morning, while on Friday, the annual Trinity Economic Forum kicks off in the university.

The opening address will be given by Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan, followed by Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton, on the theme of the Economics of Governance.

Other speakers include Constantin Gurdgiev, Lucinda Creighton, Ronan Lyons and Louise Phelan.

This year, there will also be a special session on Northern Ireland, with speakers including Mike Nesbitt, Conor Murphy and Tom Healy.

The week ahead


Construction PMI (January)


Smurfit Kappa group full-year results

Tullow Oil full-year results


KBC Bank Ireland full-year results

DCC interim management statement


External Trade (December)


Irish Independent

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