Cyprus Gets First Aid Payment as Slovenia Fights to Avoid Rescue

Cyprus got its first emergency-aid payment as euro-area finance ministers set to work avoiding a bailout in Slovenia.

Cyprus received 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) today and will get as much as 1 billion euros more in June as the Mediterranean island’s 10 billion-euro aid package was activated, the European Stability Mechanism said in a statement.

The release came as finance ministers from the 17 euro countries wrangled over banking policy and economic remedies to the fallout from the financial crisis that emerged in Greece in 2009. They also intended to rubber-stamp a payment to Greece.

“We’ve shown over the past three years that the general direction to overcome the confidence in the euro is right,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters. “We still have slower growth in Europe, and we have to see to it that we reduce unemployment even with limited growth rates.”

Europe’s governments are in the midst of a policy rethink after three years of budget cutting as they face up to a deepening recession in the euro area and a record unemployment rate that exceeds 12 percent. Still in doubt for economists is what kind of stimulus will actually be delivered and what effect it could have in the crisis-torn currency bloc.

In the coming hours, the policy makers will probably approve the release of 7.5 billion euros of payments to Greece, with 4.2 billion to be channeled this month and 3.3 billion euros in June, a European Union official said May 8.

“I definitely hope” for a decision, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the meetings, told reporters today.

Slovenia, which is fighting to avoid becoming the sixth bailout recipient, will seek to persuade euro-area policy makers that its package of tax increases and asset sales will put it on the path of fiscal wellbeing.

The measures “go in the right direction,” said Luxembourg’s Luc Frieden. “They now have to be implemented and then one has to see what they lead to.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Corina Ruhe in Brussels at cruhe@bloomberg.net; Angeline Benoit in Brussels at abenoit4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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