The European Commission said Tuesday that Greece has agreed in principle to a third bailout deal with its creditors, raising hopes of an end to months of political and economic uncertainty.
The apparent breakthrough came after a series of marathon talks in Athens aimed at securing Greece’s place in the Eurozone — the 19 nations using the euro currency — and preventing the country from defaulting on its debts on Aug. 20.
But despite acknowledging the positive step forward, the European Commission was quick to say that this was only a “technical-level agreement” and that there has yet to be any political agreement.
“Talks are still ongoing on finalizing details,” said Annika Breidthardt, the European Commission’s spokeswoman for economic affairs.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called an emergency session of Parliament for Thursday to vote on an eventual deal, the Associated Press reported.
The tentative agreement was reportedly reached about 8 a.m. Tuesday after 20 hours of talks among parties including Greece, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos gave reporters the first indication that a deal might be on the horizon when he emerged from the Hilton hotel where negotiations were taking place and said that only “two or three small issues” remained to be resolved with lenders.
The agreement would provide the beleaguered Greek government with as much as $94 billion over three years in return for a number of harsh — and, in Greece, widely unpopular — austerity measures.
These include a cost-cutting review of the social welfare system, privatization of some key state assets and a gradual increase in the retirement age to 67 by 2022.
If a deal is not reached by Aug. 20, Greece risks defaulting on a $3.3-billion debt payment to the European Central Bank.
A series of phone calls was reportedly taking place Tuesday afternoon among leaders from the key European countries, and many officials were quick to express caution.
German Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn told Germany’s n-tv news channel that he would have to “examine the results” that filter through before drawing a conclusion.
Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said more work needed to be done on the details of the agreement.
Despite the cautionary tone, Greek financial markets reacted positively to the news.
The Athens Stock Exchange rose 2.1% Tuesday and the government borrowing rates fell.
If all goes according to plan, Parliament would OK the bailout arrangement Thursday and a group of Eurozone finance ministers would meet the following day to give its approval.
Special correspondents Boyle and Tsiantar reported from London and Athens, respectively.
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