Tuesday

17th Sep 2019

Greece talks to drag into EU summit

  • Eurozone finance ministers postponed talks on Greece's bailout plan to Thursday after a fruitless day of negotiations. (Photo: Consillium)

Talks aimed at preventing an imminent Greek default are set to drag into Thursday’s (25 June) EU summit, after a promised evening of high drama ended prematurely with little movement from either Greece or its creditors.

Hastily arranged on Monday, Wednesday evening’s Eurogroup was billed as the final showdown in negotiations.

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It came after the Greek government proposed to raise an additional €8 billion, raising hopes of a deal to unlock the remaining €7.2 billion of its bailout programme.

But creditors remained unsatisfied and the meeting of eurozone finance ministers broke up after barely an hour, with no fresh proposal from either side.

For his part, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras spent most of Wednesday across the road from the EU Council in the European Commission.

He spoke with the creditors’ top represenatives: commission president Jean-Claude Juncker , the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Mario Draghi, and International Monetray Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde. The chairman of the Eurogroup, Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem also took part.

Finance ministers will reconvene at 1pm on Thursday, EU sources said.

Dijsselbloem noted that the Tsipras-creditors talks could go on past midnight. “We are determined to continue work during the night if necessary”, he told reporters.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IMF revealed its disquiet with the Greek plan, which focused on tax rises on businesses and wealthy Greeks.

Creditors want to scrap a planned levy on corporate profits over €500,000, as well as planned taxes on video games and 3G and 4G licences.

They also want Greece to increase pension contributions and to set up a Social Welfare Review aimed at reducing pension spending by 0.5 percent of GDP.

In a statement, the Greek government accused them of trying to “transfer the burden to wage earners and pensioners in a way which is socially unfair.”

Greece “cannot agree with such a direction”, it said.

The talks are aimed at helping Greece to repay €1.6 billion to the IMF by 30 June. But some national parliaments would need to ratify any agreement, tighetning the timeframe of the default.

Ministers indicated that the question of restructuring Greece’s debt, which stands at 175 percent of GDP, for the long term would not be raised in the negotiations.

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