Greece Submits New Proposals For €53bn Bailout

Greece has submitted new plans for tackling its debt as the country aims to avoid an exit from the eurozone.

The proposals were received by Eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem around two hours before a midnight deadline.

Greek politicians are due to vote on the measures later on Friday, and the country's main opposition party has said it will back the government as it seeks to secure a deal.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his cabinet spent the day drafting the package of tax rises, pension reforms and economic liberalisation measures that could decide their country's future in the EU.

They have offered to increase tax on shipping companies, end tax breaks for the Greek islands and raise VAT for restaurants.

:: Read Katie Stallard's analysis as Greece teeters on the brink of bankruptcy

In return, it is asking for a €53.5bn (£38.5bn) bailout from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the EU organisation that provides financial assistance for eurozone members.

The leaders of all 28 EU member states are due to discuss the proposals at a "decisive" summit on Sunday, with finance ministers set to consider the package the day before.

The heads of the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank and the eurozone will talk about the offer in a conference call today.

Early reaction to the Greek offer has been positive, but some have accused Greece of "caving in" to the EU a week after voters rejected a milder bailout package in a referendum - at the urging of the government.

The offer concedes to Greece's creditors on a number of points that the government had previously opposed, such as raising the retirement age, increasing sales taxes and quickening the pace of privatisation.

The three-year loan would enable Athens to cover its debt obligations, the Greek finance ministry said, preventing it from defaulting and ensuring it does not have to exit the euro.

Mr Tsipras has urged lawmakers to back the plan.

An opposition leader has predicted a "large majority" will back the proposals.

Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis said the Greek people want a deal that ends "the anxiety and the stranglehold" that they feel.

French President Francois Hollande has welcomed the latest package, describing them as "serious and credible".

The German government has yet to give a verdict, with a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel saying Berlin will wait for Greece's creditors to have their say.

European stock markets also responded positively, with many indexes rising in early trading.

However, two senior German conservatives have said they remain sceptical.

"How believable is it that this reform list will be implemented?" asked Ralph Brinkhaus, deputy parliamentary floor leader for Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, in an interview on ZDF television.

While Hans-Peter Friedrich told Deutschlandfunk radio: "Either the Greek government is tricking its own people or (it is tricking) us again."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage was scathing in his verdict, saying Mr Tsipras had "caved into the EU" less than a week after the referendum.

After that vote, eurozone leaders decided at an emergency meeting that Greece should have one more chance to present a credible rescue plan.

Greek banks will remain closed until at least next Monday and cash machine withdrawals are limited to €60 (£42) per day as the country teeters on the brink.

Greece has had two bailouts worth €240bn (£172.5bn) from the eurozone and the IMF since 2010, but its economy has shrunk by a quarter, unemployment stands at more than 25% and one in two young people is out of work.