Gilmore expects deal on EU budget
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he expects a deal to be reached on the European Union budget.
Speaking today, Mr Gilmore said it was European Council president Herman Van Rompuy's intention to present a new set of proposals at a meeting of heads of state and government ministers with a view to getting agreement.
"Over the course of the meeting last night I think it is fair to say that the positions of the different member states became clearer. President Van Rompuy said he intends to try and reach agreement on this budget by this weekend," Mr Gilmore said on RTE's Morning Ireland.
Euro area finance ministers are discussing using profits on Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank to boost the country's debt sustainability target, Finnish finance minister Jutta Urpilainen said.
"We're currently negotiating on what the whole picture will look like," Ms Urpilainen said in an interview in Helsinki yesterday. "The situation is live."
Asked whether profits arising from the ECB's Securities Markets Programme can be used to ease Greece's debt burden, Ms Urpilainen said: "There are different proposals on the table, of which this is one. We'll have to see how it looks as a whole."
The ECB has about €208 billion of European government debt bought through the SMP outstanding.
The programme was announced in May 2010 and mothballed in March.
Ms Urpilainen told reporters in parliament today that many issues blocking a decision on Greece remain, though she "hopes" an agreement will be reached at today's meeting of finance ministers.
Finland is willing to give Greece more time, though the northernmost euro member won't back proposals to give the government in Athens more money, she said.
The Brussels meeting today, the second in a week after finance chiefs agreed seven days ago to keep Greece's bailout aid flowing, underscores skirmishing among EU officials confronting rising unemployment and a slowing economy.
In addition to a tussle between the EU and the International Monetary Fund over extending Greece's debt target by two years to 2022, the ministers are struggling to re-engineer the bailout without putting up more money.
While ministers aim to find agreement today, it's "impossible" to say whether they'll reach that goal, Ms Urpilainen said in the interview.
The IMF target is for a reduction of Greece's debt to 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, from a projected peak of 190 per cent of GDP in 2014.
Euro area governments are trying to work out how to plug Greece's €15 billion financing gap through 2014, opened up by their decision to give the country two extra years to reduce its budget deficit.