Bloomberg: Euro zone examines ways of achieving a Greek debt relief

19 May 2016
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Euro zone officials are examining a proposal to purchase loans that member states made to Greece, including the European Stability Mechanism, aiming to ease Greek debt burden, a precondition for the International Monetary Fund’s involvement in a bailout program, Bloomberg reports.

Senior finance ministry officials discussed yesterday on a conference call ways to make Greece’s 321 billion euros of obligations sustainable, according to sources.

One option would be for the ESM to purchase loans individual euro nations made to Greece and reduce the interest payments, said the same sources. About 52.9 billion euros ($59.4 billion) of bilateral loans were made in 2010 and 2011.

The ESM is also considering purchasing the IMF’s loans as a way to give Greece a financial boost since its debt terms are more lenient than those of the Washington-based fund, according to a sustainability report prepared by the European institutions. Buying back the IMF loans “amounts to debt relief,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in remarks in Brussels on Wednesday at a Politico conference.

The three options examined were: have the ESM purchase bilateral loans made to Greece from individual countries; have the ESM purchase the IMF’s obligations; and extending the maturities of Greece’s debt and reducing the interest rates, one of the people said.

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