BRUSSELS — Greece is on its way to getting the next installment of its much-needed bailout loans after finance ministers from the 17 European Union countries that use the euro agreed on a program to reduce the country's debt.
The first disbursement will take place Dec. 13, said Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the eurogroup of finance ministers, which made the decision early today.
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, welcomed the agreement. "It will certainly reduce the uncertainty and strengthen confidence in Europe and in Greece," he said.
This was the third time in the last two weeks that finance ministers from the eurozone had tried to hammer out a deal on the next installment of bailout money — $57.8 billion.
The so-called troika of the European Central Bank, IMF and the European Commission, which is the 27-country EU's executive arm, have twice agreed to bail out Greece, pledging a total of $311 billion in rescue loans — of which the country has received about $194.7 billion. In return for its bailout loans, Greece has had to impose several rounds of austerity measures and submit its economy to scrutiny.
The main aim of the bailout program is to right Greece's economy and get it to a point where it can independently raise money on the debt markets. It has been clear for months that the country is far from achieving that goal, and the latest talks were about trying to get Greece back on the path to sustainability.