The European Union is considering lowering the interest rates on bailout loans for both Greece and Ireland, and is also putting together a second rescue package for Greece in an effort to stave off debt restructuring.
The move comes in the wake of a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel, denied by Athens and EU ministers alike, that Greece was considering leaving the euro zone. Reuters reported that the discussion over lower rates came after a small group of top euro zone ministers met in Luxembourg on Friday evening to discuss measures to combat the ongoing debt crisis.
There is by no means unanimity on the issue, however; at a news conference, While German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Kotthaus was quoted as saying, "There is no discussion at the moment about extending the payment schedule or lowering the interest rates for Greece," the executive EC said Monday that it hoped a decision would be reached within weeks on lowering the interest rate on Irish debt. A spokesman for EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn was quoted as saying, "The Commission is clearly in favor of a rate cut. The Commission is against debt restructuring."