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EU finance ministers back new Greek credit agreement

Bank of Greece Image copyright AFP
Image caption Greece had to impose harsh economic austerity measures in return for the bailout

Eurozone ministers have moved towards agreeing a new credit line for Greece as it prepares to exit its bailout at the end of the year.

The Greek government is trying to balance austerity measures imposed by the EU and the IMF with a return to regaining economic policy-making power.

Greece has had two bailouts totalling €240bn (£188bn) since 2010 when private investors refused to lend to Athens.

Greece wants to return to market financing from next year.

"Taking into account the still fragile market sentiment and the many reform challenges ahead there is strong support for a precautionary credit line," said Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.

Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis told the Reuters news agency he hopes for a grace period of up to a year after exiting the bailout, during which Greece will still get a financial safety net but would not be "micro-managed" by lenders.

The credit deal will use €11bn already granted to Greece by the eurozone to strengthen Greek banks. The money was not needed after the European Central Bank tested eurozone banks last month.

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