EU chiefs prepare €25bn support deal for Greece

EUROZONE finance ministers will discuss plans to support the beleaguered Greek government through a programme of bilateral loans or loan guarantees today.

Under terms being thrashed out, the 16 single currency members – led by Germany – are preparing a rescue package worth up to €25bn (£16.4bn). The aid will only kick in if Athens struggles to refinance itself should the cost of selling its debt soar, either due to a ratings agency downgrade or through the activities of speculators.

Greece has been in crisis since it revealed its budget deficit was running at 12.7 per cent of GDP in November. The country needs to roll over €53bn of maturing debt this year, with €20bn up for servicing in April and May alone. Short-term pressure was eased with the successful issue of a bond a fortnight ago.