Eurozone releases 110 billion euro bailout package for Greece

Eurozone releases 110 billion euro bailout package for Greece

Greek Prime Minister George A. Papandreou at an extraordinary European Union summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on Friday. AFP

At an emergency meeting in Brussels, the eurozone leaders expressed concern over mounting pressure on the euro in financial markets and deplored the fact that speculators were targeting other debt-ridden nations such as Portugal, Spain and Ireland as the next candidates for a bailout.

They agreed on a "crisis management mechanism" to protect the eurozone from speculators and to prevent the debt crisis in Greece from engulfing the whole euro area, chairman of the euro group and Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Junker, said at the conclusion of Friday's summit.

Details of the plan are still being worked out and they will be made public by the finance ministers of the euro group in Brussels on Sunday, Junker told reporters.
He said he expected the crisis management mechanism to be put in place before the financial markets open on Monday.

The drop in the value of Greek government bonds to their lowest level and the plunge in European stock markets are evidence of a "worldwide coordinated attack against the euro", Junker said.The eurozone nations are determined to defend their common currency at any cost, president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "The euro is facing its worst crisis since it was created eleven years ago. We have taken some very important decisions here."
Sarkozy also spoke of plans for further regulating financial markets and closely scrutinising the work of ratings agencies.

The finance sector will have to make a significant contribution to preserve the stability of the eurozone."The euro is Europe, we cannot leave it to the speculators," he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared similar views and said, "We have established that the euro is subjected to a high level of speculation."

The eurozone leaders cleared the way for immediately releasing the bailout funds involving credits of up to 80 billion euros from Greece's eurozone partners and 30 billion euros from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a period of three years.
A maximum of 30 billion euros will be paid in the current year and the first loan tranche will be made available to Greece in the coming days to meet a May 19 deadline for repaying its debts.

The bailout package was finalised by the eurozone finance ministers last Sunday after the Greek government pledged to implement a new round of tough austerity measures, which would save up to 30 billion euros over the next three years.

Earlier, on Friday, a legislation on Germany's 22.4-billion euro contribution to the bailout package was signed into law by the country's President, Horst Koehler, after it was passed by both houses of parliament.The eurozone leaders cleared the way for immediately releasing the bailout funds involving credits of up to 80 billion euros from Greece's eurozone partners and 30 billion euros from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a period of three years.

A maximum of 30 billion euros will be paid in the current year and the first loan tranche will be made available to Greece in the coming days to meet a May 19 deadline for repaying its debts.The bailout package was finalised by the eurozone finance ministers last Sunday after the Greek government pledged to implement a new round of tough austerity measures, which would save up to 30 billion euros over the next three years.
Earlier, on Friday, a legislation on Germany's 22.4-billion euro contribution to the bailout package was signed into law by the country's President, Horst Koehler, after it was passed by both houses of parliament.

In the Bundestag, the Lower House of Parliament, the bill was passed with 391 votes, while 72 votes were against the proposal and 139 lawmakers abstained from the voting.
However, it could not get the broad support which Chancellor Merkel was seeking, as the entire opposition Social Democrats abstained in protest against the government's failure to involve the country's banks in the bailout by imposing a financial transaction levy.
Nevertheless, Germany's banks are participating in the bailout with a voluntary contribution of 8 billion euros, according to the German Finance Ministry.
France also passed a legislation on its share of 16.7 billion euros in the bailout package, the second highest after Germany.Some other countries are yet to pass legislations on their contributions.

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