Pressure increases on Athens as finance ministers cancel meeting

European officials have increased pressure on Greece’s government to receive its €130bn of rescue package, as finance ministers have cancelled their meeting in Brussels today where they were due to move on the rescue.

Instead, they are waiting for a firm commitment from Greece’s ruling coalition – signatures on paper – that the austerity measures will be enacted regardless of what happens in Greece’s upcoming election.

Greece needs the money to make a €14.5bn payment on sovereign debt due on 20 March.

Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti told reporters last night the decision not to meet face to face in Brussels was made by head of the eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker.

Athens had indicated most of the political leaders responsible will provide the signatures, as requested, today.

Germany’s finance minister told local television things were “better prepared” now than they were when the crisis began, should Greece default and then exit the currency bloc.

Greece’s leaders are still to detail exactly how they will also find an extra €325m of extra public purse savings, as its public lenders also demand, though further pension cuts are widely believed to be likely targets.

The news was not all bad for the eurozone, though.

The governor of China’s central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said Beijing would invest in European debt, and had not reduced reserves exposure to the euro zone.

“For the People’s Bank of China, we have always been confident in the euro and its future,” he said.

Though now might not be the right time to commit fresh capital, he said.

He said the world’s major emerging economies were waiting for the eurozone to get over the worst of its crisis first.

 

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