Greece's international creditors have reached agreement with Athens on efforts to stabilise the crisis-hit country's public finances, clearing the way for its next debt aid payment, EU sources said Tuesday. Separately, a European Commission spokesman said "we have now agreed on all of the most important policy areas" of the programme and a statement was expected later in the day. "The talks have been long because the subjects are difficult but we are now very close to a staff-level accord," EU economic affairs spokesman Simon O'Connor said. The latest talks on Greece's bailout programme began in September but the government has baulked at demands for fresh austerity measures just as the economy is edging out of a deep six-year recession. The so-called Troika of creditors -- the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- wanted Athens to open up the economy further and to cut even more civil servants. The quarterly Troika audits determine whether Greece can get rescue funding, with the next tranche worth some 8.5 billion euros in all. There was also disagreement on how Greece should spend its first primary budget surplus in years -- that is, a budget in surplus before counting debt servicing costs. Greece wants to divert most of the surplus, estimated at over 1.5 billion euros this year, to low-income pensioners, police and army officers. As the talks have dragged on, Troika officials have become more frustrated with Athens. "We will not force someone to accept financial aid, if they do not want to do so," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said last week. The Troika first bailed out Greece in 2010 with a programme worth 110 billion euros ($153 billion). When that failed to stabilise the economy, they agreed a much tougher second rescue in 2012 worth 130 billion euros, plus a private sector debt write-off of more than 100 billion euros.