Europe’s creditor countries struggled to bridge divisions over a rescue of Greece, seeking more control over how future aid is spent as the clock ticked toward a possible default next month. Stocks and the euro fell.
In a replay of the brinkmanship that marked the early stages of the Greek crisis two years ago, euro-area finance ministers extracted concessions from political leaders in Athens intended to pave the way for the endorsement of a 130 billion- euro ($171 billion) aid package next week.
While “further considerations are necessary regarding the specific mechanisms to strengthen the surveillance of program implementation,” Europe is set to make “all the necessary decisions” on Feb. 20, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in an e-mailed statement after leading a conference call of finance chiefs late yesterday.
Greece’s plea for more aid on top of the 110 billion euros awarded in 2010 has stirred recriminations on both sides of Europe’s north-south economic divide, with taxpayers in better- off countries rebelling against further handouts. Each day lost brings Greece closer to a March 20 bond redemption when it must make a 14.5 billion-euro payment or become the first country in the euro’s 13-year history to default.