Nov 04 - The IMF, ECB and European Commission Troika returns to Greece to discuss the next tranche of bail-out loans, after protests over Sunday trading raise doubts about Greece's willingness to further reform. David Pollard reports.
A normal shopping day in downtown Athens. Only, not. Because this is Sunday, and it's the first time that shops and stores across Greece have opened on Sunday for over a century. Some like it, some don't. - this woman says Sunday is the only day she can shop... But this shop assistant would rather be at home with her family. And unions say it's unfair to workers, and to small business. SOUNDBITE (Greek) GENERAL SECRETARY OF 'OIYE' PRIVATE RETAIL SECTOR WORKERS UNION, THANOS VASILOPOULOS, SAYING: "The moment that commerce here is literally collapsing, they are forcing businesses to stay open longer and spend more money, and so only a handful of multinationals will survive." The government hopes the new hours will show visiting troika officials from the IMF, ECB and European Union that reform is on track. Both sides have been trying to patch up differences over a two billion euro hole in next year's budget, ahead of talks on the next tranche of Greece's 240 billion euro bailout programme. Greece watchers like Sarah Hewin of Standard Chartered say the budget hole is just one issue. SOUNDBITE (English) SARAH HEWIN, SENIOR ECONOMIST, STANDARD CHARTERED, SAYING: "The Troika are not particularly happy about slippage on privatisation, and they still want the Greek government to do more in terms of cutting spending, raising revenues. From the Greek side, of course, they've undergone a long period of recession and the feeling is that they've done pretty much up to the limit of what they're able to achieve." A spate of political violence - including the recent fatal shooting of two supporters of the right-wing Golden Dawn party - is a concern for another prominent EU visitor. As is unemployment - one in two young people are out of work. Martin Schulz is President of the European Parliament and is vying for the post of European Commission president. SOUNDBITE (English) PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, MARTIN SCHULZ, SAYING: "The biggest problem in my eyes here in the country is that so many well educated young people have no chance and no perspective, to give a chance to them. This is at least from a point of view of priorities as high as to reduce the sovereign debt." Recession or not, Sunday shopping appears to be a hit. At least for those with the cash or the credit to splash out.