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EU's Barroso confident that bailout will allow Athens debt crisis to be contained

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-30

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Friday that a multi-billion-euro aid package for Greece would be hammered out within days and that the bailout would prevent the crisis from spilling over to other countries.

AFP - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Friday he was confident Greece's debt crisis could be contained with help from a planned bailout by Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

Greece is in negotiations with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund on a financial bailout that its government says is desperately needed by May 19 in order to avoid a devastating debt default.

Credit ratings of EU member states by Standard&Poor's

France: AAA

Germany: AAA

The Netherlands: AAA

Spain: AA
Ireland: AA
Italy: A+
Portugal: A-
Greece: BB+ *

*Greece is the first EU member to be downgraded to a speculative grade rating since the euro was introduced in 1999.

"I'm confident that the talks will be concluded soon, meaning in the next days," Barroso told a press conference at the end of his visit to Beijing.

"We believe that these solutions will be conducive to our actions and will prevent further possible effects of the contagion."

The EU and Greek authorities are making "solid and rapid progress" to finalise an agreement on the bailout, he said.

"Greek authorities have stated in very clear terms that they will take all measures needed to correct fiscal imbalances," Barroso said.

He was speaking a day after a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during which the two leaders discussed the Greek crisis.

Greece has asked the EU and IMF to activate a three-year rescue package worth 45 billion euros (60 billion dollars) this year alone as it faces the May 19 deadline to repay nine billion euros in old debts.

The cost of the bailout plan over three years could reach 120 billion euros.

Germany has baulked at leading Europe's rescue effort: a bailout for Greece is hugely unpopular there and Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a key regional election on May 9.

"The difficulties that we are experiencing now in Greece, and also due to the fiscal position of some of our member states, are going to be overcome, I have no doubt," Barroso said.

He also said he and Wen discussed China's foreign exchange policy, amid overseas pressure, particularly from the United States, for Beijing to let its yuan currency appreciate.

But the European Commission president indicated he did not push the issue with China, which has so far firmly resisted foreign pressure.

"It makes sense to discuss currency stability... and the level of the currency of China, that is the message I conveyed to our Chinese partner and I think that message was clearly understood," Barroso said.

"We should discuss the issue of monetary stability. This is not a matter of pressure... in China, pressure will not work."

China's trading partners have accused it of keeping the yuan's value artificially low to make Chinese exports more competitive on world markets, at the expense of other countries' exports.

Date created : 2010-04-30

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