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    Champagne

    Bubbles or Troubles for Greece as EU Says Debt Can Be Delayed

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    Greece has the fastest growing champagne market in the world - but the corks aren't popping just yet for the debt-laden country.

    Whilst the average number of champagne consumed in France amounts to 107.1m litres — 300,000 liters of champagne were drunk in Greece last year alone. 

    "It's not that all the Greeks in the last couple of years decided to go party and forget their troubles," says Spiros Malandrakis, alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor, adding that the growth in consumption is actually down to visitors.

    "Most tourists are coming into the country, but they are also higher end tourists," he said. Sales increased by 18 percent in 2014, and 56 percent in 2013, according to Euromonitor's international data.

    Meanwhile, on the fringes of the European Union Summit in France, and a day after Eurozone ministers failed to reach a cash-for-reform deal, trilateral talks are being held between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    However, it's suggested Tsipras doesn't — or won't — understand the lenders' insistence that further austerity measures must be imposed on the country. 

       

    A statement from the offices of the French delegation at the European Council said: "Alexis Tsipras informed the two leaders about the Greek proposal and emphasized that the Greek side did not understand why creditors were insisting on such hard measures," adding that, "negotiations will continue after the summit is concluded." 

    According to the Greek press, the IMF has rejected some of the measures to increase social security contributions, calling for more spending cuts than tax increases. Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, told Irish media: "I am against increasing the corporate tax, but then again I am against raising the tax on hotels and against cutting the pensions of people who live below the poverty line.

    "These issues are putting me and my government in an impossible position, having to make a bad choice among really hard, difficult bad choices."

    A note prepared for Eurozone finance ministers, offering a lifeline to Greece has emerged. It says the EU can help Greece repay its debt in the forthcoming months if the bailout program is extended by five months, to November.

    The note, reportedly puts the total available amount for Greece at $18.3 billion (€16.3 bn), made up from $12.2 (€10.9.bn), earmarked for Greek bank recapitalization and a $2.02 (€1.8 bn) tranche from the Eurozone bailout fund — and $4.03 billion (€3.6 bn) from profits made by the European Central Bank on its Greek bonds in 2014 and 2015. The note read:

    "A five months extension (until end of November 2015) of the current program is feasible."

    But despite sales of the fizzy stuff jumping by almost a fifth last year, making the economically creaking country the world's fastest growing market for champagne, if talks with the Troika to avoid bankruptcy remain deadlocked, popping corks at midnight on 30 June will be left only to the champagne coiffing tourists enjoying a Greek holiday.

    Related:

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    IMF Expects Greece to Repay Debt Before Bailout Deal Expires
    Tags:
    International Monetary Fund, Greek debt, anti-austerity, pensions, Greek economy, EU membership, bailout program, austerity measures, economy, Troika, European Commission, European Union, European Central Bank, Yanis Varoufakis, Alexis Tsipras, Europe, Brussels, Greece
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