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Eurogroup agrees with IMF on debt relief measures for Greece, but no write-down; Bundestag to vote on disbursement of next tranche of Greek bailout on Thursday

27 Nov 2012

Eurozone finance ministers yesterday agreed to pay out the next €43.7bn tranche of the Greek bailout in four instalments between December and March 2013. The ministers also agreed with the IMF on a set of measures to reduce Greece’s debt burden, but stopped short of granting the write-down originally demanded by the IMF. The measures agreed include longer maturities and lower interest rates on Greece’s loans, a debt buyback, and eurozone central banks passing any profits made on Greek bonds bought by the ECB under its SMP programme on to Greece’s escrow account.    

Greece’s debt target for 2020 has also been lifted to 124% of GDP. Following the meeting, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told reporters, “When Greece has achieved, or is about to achieve, a primary [budget] surplus and fulfilled all of its conditions, we will, if need be, consider further measures for the reduction of the total debt.” The German Bundestag will vote on the disbursement of the next tranche of the Greek bailout on Thursday, DPA reports.
Eurogroup statement WSJ La Stampa EUobserver Kathimerini Kathimerini 2 Cinco Días La Tribune Le Monde Guardian Independent FT Expansión FAZ 1 FAZ 2 Süddeutsche FTD 1 FTD 2 Welt 1 Welt 2 Bild Kathimerini 3 Guardian: Elliott Guardian: Leader

Pawel Swidlicki: London and Warsaw need not be opponents on European issues
On his new Rzeczpospolita blog, Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki argues, “Poland needs to think hard about its approach to the issue of the UK’s future in Europe. [Polish Foreign Minister] Sikorski’s recent interventions, while well intentioned, serve only to paint the picture in black and white terms – in on the current terms or out altogether – and as such push the UK closer to the exit. If this were to happen, Poland would lose a valuable ally.”
Rzeczpospolita: Swidlicki

New poll finds 54% of Britons would vote to leave EU if trade relationship could be maintained;
Telegraph: Eight Conservative MPs have held talks about defecting to UKIP
A new ComRes/Independent poll has found that people are evenly divided on whether Britain should remain a full member of the EU. Some 46% agree, while 45% disagree. The poll also found that 54% want Britain to leave the EU provided it could keep its close trade relationship with the bloc, while 36% disagree. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has moved to squash talk of a pact with UKIP to maximise the parties’ vote at the general election. However, the Telegraph reports that eight Conservative MPs have held talks with senior figures in UKIP about defecting to the party.
Open Europe: EU trade Independent Telegraph Times Independent: Richards Express Guardian

EurActiv reports that EU officials have accepted the need to cut the amount spent on the EU’s administration in the 2014-2020 EU budget. However, the figure of €500m falls significantly short of the €6bn demanded by David Cameron and other leaders during last week’s EU summit.

Following the collapse of the ‘conciliation’ talks between MEPs and member states on the EU’s annual budget for 2013 two weeks ago, over the proposed 6.8% increase in spending, the European Commission yesterday put forward a virtually unchanged new draft, proposing to cut spending by only €126.8m.
Open Europe blog EC press release

Spain’s bailout fund for regions to stay in place until end of next year;
Catalan left-wing party offers support for independence referendum
Expansión reports that the Spanish government is to keep its bailout fund for regions in place until the end of 2013. The fund will next year be equipped with €23bn – €5bn more than this year. Meanwhile, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said yesterday that Spain will need €37bn from the eurozone’s bailout fund to recapitalise its nationalised savings banks. The bank bailout request could total up to €42.5bn, reports El País.

Separately, Oriol Junqueras – the leader of the Catalan Republican Left party – has offered Catalan President Artur Mas “a grand pact” to go ahead with plans to hold a referendum on Catalonia’s independence, but made clear that his party “will not endorse more cuts”. Open Europe’s blog post analysing the results of the Catalan elections featured on the Guardian’s live blog and Business Insider.  
El País El País 2 El País 3 El País 4 Expansión Guardian: Live blog Business Insider WSJ: Zhong FT FT: Analysis

The European Court of Justice has rejected a complaint by Irish MP Thomas Pringle against the permanent eurozone bailout fund (ESM), EUobserver reports. Pringle had argued that the ESM violates the EU’s no-bailout clause, but the ECJ ruled it is legal and can continue.
EUobserver FAZ

Following his defeat in the internal contest for the leadership of France’s centre-right UMP party, former French Prime Minister François Fillon has said that he will found a new parliamentary group – which he would dissolve only if the internal election of the new party leader were to be repeated.
Le Monde Le Figaro WSJ IHT

Writing in the Guardian, George Monbiot argues that “David Cameron is right to press for major cuts” to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy saying it is “a modern equivalent of feudal aid”.
Open Europe research Guardian: Monbiot EUobserver European Voice

Former Austrian MEP Ernst Strasser went on trial yesterday for his involvement in the cash-for-amendments scandal unveiled by the Sunday Times last year.  

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