Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister
Although the crisis summit is focused on Greece, there are signs that Portugal and Ireland may benefit from today’s deal, too. According to a senior European official, leaders are close to an agreement that would see lending rates on Lisbon’s and Dublin’s bail-out loans be cut – though no word on how much.
Currently, Portugal and Greece pay 200 basis points above the borrowing costs of the eurozone’s €440bn bail-out fund, while Ireland – because of an arcane dispute with France over corporate tax rates – still pays 300 basis points. There’s been some talk that this could be lowered to as little as 50 basis points for all three, but our source was mum on that point.
Angela Merkel in Brussels on July 21.
Eurozone leaders have made their way into the council building in Brussels, and their comments – though still cautious – have turned upbeat. Here is a sample of the chatter, thanks to our door-stepping friends at Reuters.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, believes a decisive deal is at hand. “I expect that we will be able to seal a new Greece programme. That is an important signal. And with this programme we want to grasp the problems by their root,” Merkel said.
Asked whether a Franco-German agreement – which would likely push Greece into a selective default – had the support of its main critic, Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president, she was more circumspect. “We spoke at length with ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and listened to his arguments, too. For this reason, I hope that today will be a constructive day.”
Josef Ackermann, CEO of Deutsche Bank
UPDATE: According to our crack team in Paris, Baudouin Prot, chief executive of BNP Paribas, is also in Brussels participating in the talks.