EU finance ministers back a new credit agreement for Greece and a compromise is reached over the row about UK payments into EU coffers. Melanie Ralph reports.
These Greek students want change. Tired of the strict austerity imposed upon them by outside bureaucrats, they say a new strategy is needed. Greek politicians are well aware of the increased backlash from the public, as are the Eurozone finance ministers. Greece was bumped to the top of the agenda at this week's meeting in Brussels. Greece wants to exit their EU bailout programme at the end of the year, but what next? EU ministers have agreed to back a precautionary credit line, but without the strict bailout conditions attached. Finance minister group chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem: (SOUNDBITE) (English) EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTER GROUP CHAIR, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "Our positions are clearly converging, taking into account the still fragile market sentiment, and many reform challenges still lying ahead. There is strong support for a precautionary credit line in a form of an existing ESM tool called the ECCL - an Enhanced Conditions Credit Line.'' But what about the IMF? Their bailout programme and stringent checks aren't expected to end for another two years. Greece wants out much earlier if they're really going to get the public back on side. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTER GROUP CHAIR, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "There is also a broad understanding that the IMF needs to continue being involved and a further discussion would have to take place on the exact form of this involvement." Markets remain wary about Greece going it alone. Bond yields edged higher on the the news. Greece shared the the spotlight with the UK at the meeting of finance ministers. Britain is reported to have renegotiated an outstanding 1.7 billion pound bill from an EU economic review stretching back over a decade, says UK finance minister George Osborne. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UK FINANCE MINISTER GROUP CHAIR, GEORGE OSBORNE, SAYING: ''Instead of footing the bill we have halved the bill, we have delayed the bill, we will pay no interest on the bill.'' That will bring relief to Osborne's boss, UK prime minister David Cameron, who was in Helsinki for talks with his northern European counterparts. He said a failure to reach agreement over the payments issue would pose a ''major problem''.