The reforms plan submitted by the Greek government to its creditors late on Thursday was commended by French President Francois Hollande on Friday, even as the Greek parliament prepared to debate and vote on the proposal. Greece is believed to have caved in to a number of demands from its creditors in exchange for a third bailout of $59 billion.
“The Greek proposal is serious, credible and shows a determination to stay in the eurozone,” Hollande reportedly said. “The discussions now have to lead to an agreement which respects European rules and Greeks, who have suffered a lot.”
Hollande’s comments were echoed by French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who said that he is “reasonably optimistic” of reaching a deal. “I believe that major advances have been made in the last few days,” Macron said, according to media reports. “The level of the reforms are in line with what was expected.”
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that he is “more optimistic than before” that a deal would be struck before the Sunday deadline. His comments, made during a press conference in Rome, add to the growing consensus among European leaders that an agreement between Greece and its creditors is highly likely.
“Let's hope we don't have to see each other again on Sunday because that will mean that the deal has already been done on Saturday by our economy ministers,” Renzi told Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the news conference.
However, Michael Fuchs, a senior member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, reportedly said, early on Friday: "We have to be very careful because ... I have a little bit of a problem to trust it because what is the difference between Sunday and today?"
In the 13-page document sent to its creditors Thursday night, the Greek government outlined over $14 billion in austerity measures, including scrapping tax breaks for the country’s islands and scaling back defense spending by over $330 million. Additionally, the reform plan also proposed a gradual phasing out of some pension benefits, privatization of several state-owned assets and clamping down on tax avoidance.
However, given that more than 60 percent of Greek voters rejected further austerity measures in a July 5 referendum, the proposal is likely to face opposition from many within Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party itself.
In a possible sign of things to come -- when the proposal goes to vote in Greece’s 300-member parliament -- the country’s Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and parliament speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou -- both Syriza members -- voiced their opposition to further austerity measures.
“The choices we have are tough ... but the worst, the most humiliating and unbearable choice is an agreement that will surrender, loot and subjugate our people and this country,” Lafazanis reportedly said, on Thursday, before the proposal was finalized.
After a debate and a vote in the Greek parliament, the technical details of the plan will be discussed by Greece’s creditors Friday, following which there will be a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Saturday. Finally, Eurogroup leaders would meet on Sunday afternoon and a full European Union summit will convene two hours later to decide on Greece's future within the bloc.