Eurogroup meeting on Greece ends without breakthrough

Eurogroup meeting ended without agreement after hours of discussions, finance ministers to come together tomorrow to discuss Greek bailout

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Eurogroup meeting on new Greek bailout proposal ended late on Saturday without a breakthrough as the finance ministers of the 19-member bloc failed to reach consensus.

At the end of the debate, which lasted almost 10 hours, Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb tweeted “End of Eurogroup session. To be continued tomorrow.”

The finance ministers will resume the talks at 11am on Sunday to discuss the new €53.5 billion ($59.2 billion) Greek bailout proposal submitted by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday.

Following the meeting, head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said “We have had an in-depth discussion of the Greek proposals. The issue of credibility and trust was discussed, and also of course the financial issues involved.”

“It is still very difficult, but work is still in progress,” he added.

The leaders of the 28 European Union member countries are also set to meet Sunday afternoon in Brussels for an emergency summit on Greece.

Failure to reach an agreement over financial aid to Greece may force the country to “Grexit” as it has billions of euros of debt payments to make to the European Central Bank (ECB) within the month.

The country has already run out of money and became the first developed nation to default on its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the end of June.

Lack of trust appeared to be the main problem between Greece and the other 18 members of the eurozone in the meeting, as the partners demanded Greece to make credible commitments for harsh austerity measures submitted by Tsipras on Thursday and backed by the Greek parliament early on Saturday.

"We will definitely not be able to rely on promises," said Wolfgang Schaeuble, Finance Minister of Germany, the biggest lender of Greece and strongest supporter of austerity measures.  

Schaeuble also put forward a plan proposing Greece a five-year temporary exit from the eurozone or acceptance of further austerity commitments.

Finland seemed to be the country taking the hardest stance against Greece in the meeting as reports suggest the country’s coalition government may dissolve if further assistance was granted to Greece.

Sources from the creditor institutions - European Commision, ECB and the IMF - say the bailout package that Greece needs would be close to €80 billion, much higher than the amount in the plan proposed by Tsipras.

Greece needs at least €25 billion for simply the recapitalization of its banks which have been dried out almost completely because of massive cash withdrawals, creditors say.

Banks have been closed in Greece for two weeks now as the cash deposits ran out, and capital controls are imposed by the government letting citizens withdraw only €60 per day.

The situation does not seem to be getting any better for the Greeks any time soon as the Economy Minister George Stathakis said on Saturday that capital controls “will stay in play for two months or some months.”

Greece has a public debt in excess of €320 billion and has already received two bailout packages amounting to €240 billion.

TRTWorld and agencies