ATHENS, Greece – Top European Union finance officials are in Athens to back a deal between Greece and bailout lenders that would impose tougher austerity on the recession-battered country, but build momentum for relief measures on its massive debts.
EU Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and European Central Bank executive Benoit Coeure will meet Monday with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to try and overcome key obstacles in the negotiations this week.
Lenders want Greece to allow more flexible labor contracts and drastically scale back protection for troubled mortgages. But Greece fears the measures would deepen its welfare crisis. Years of recession have shrunk the economy by a quarter and roughly doubled the rate of poverty.
Greece's debt level is set to peak this year at 180.3 percent of gross domestic product.