Disagreement over pension cuts had stalled an agreement among Greek leaders on austerity reforms demanded by the troika of the European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB). With several missed deadlines for that agreement behind him, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos set off for Brussels on Thursday without it. However, a phone call after his arrival signaled an end to the standoff.
Bloomberg reported that, before the deal was struck, EU spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said he could not confirm reports of an additional 15 days granted to Athens to resolve its differences. “No one seems to be aware of such an extension,” he was quoted saying in advance of an emergency meeting of EU finance ministers. Six days of talks had resulted in a narrowing of differences, but no resolution.
A statement from Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s office said that he and the leaders of the three political parties that support the government “agreed on all the points of the program with the exception of one which requires further elaboration and discussion” with the troika. “This discussion will occur immediately so that it can be completed in light of the meeting of euro area finance ministers” today.
At issue were cuts to pensions totaling 300 million euros ($397.515 million). All three party leaders have proposed alternative proposals to avoid pension cuts, agreeing to by cut defense spending and other expenditures.