| 13.8°C Dublin

Hopes for Greek bailout rise as Athens gives ground on taxes

Hopes of a deal to prevent Greece crashing out of the euro have been raised after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras offered a package of economic reforms, but a final agreement remained out of reach with a deadline looming next week.

Another meeting of the eurozone's finance ministers will take place tomorrow, ahead of a major European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday in an effort to break the deadlock.

Leaders of the 19 eurozone nations met last night to discuss Mr Tsipras's proposals as he attempted to win support before the deadline for repaying a €1.6bn loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the end of the month.

French President Francois Hollande said "we are moving towards an agreement" while European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also sounded hopeful, claiming "we are closer than we ever were before".

But IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said the Greek offer "still lacks specificity" and was "still short of everything we expected".

In the Greek government's compromise proposal, Mr Tsipras is offering about €8bn in higher taxes and austerity measures over the next two years in an attempt to gain the approval of the EU, IMF and European Central Bank.


But several of the measures included in the package go against the anti-austerity commitments which swept his radical left-wing Syriza party to power, potentially causing difficulties in getting support for the package in Athens.

The prospect of the Greek crisis dominating the agenda at the European Council meeting on Thursday will be a blow to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who hopes to use the summit to press his case for EU reform ahead of the UK's in/out referendum promised by the end of 2017.