Greece fails to reach bailout deal with Europe

Greece fails to reach bailout deal with Europe

BRUSSELS-Agence France-Presse
Greece fails to reach bailout deal with Europe

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel welcomes Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (L) and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) ahead of a meeting in Brussels February 12, 2015. REUTERS Photo

Greece’s new anti-austerity government failed to reach a deal with its European partners early Feb. 12 on renegotiating its huge bailout, with talks now set to go down to the wire next week.

Finance minister Yaris Varoufakis set out Athens’ proposals for a new debt program at an emergency meeting with his counterparts from the 19-country eurozone in Brussels.

As he made his case more than 15,000 people turned out on Athens streets on Feb. 11 evening in a display of support for the government’s program, according to police.

But Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup of eurozone ministers, said six hours of talks produced no agreement on an extension of Greece’s 240 billion euro ($270 billion) EU-IMF bailout program.
Greece’s bailout is due to expire at the end of February and failure to agree an extension would see Greece default on its giant debts, almost inevitably meaning that it would crash out of the euro.

“We had intense and constructive discussions but there was not enough progress at this point to reach joint conclusions,” Dijsselbloem told a news conference after the talks.

“We will continue our talks on Feb. 16 and that’s as far as I can go at this point.”       

The talks in Brussels on Feb. 16 would probably be the last chance before any new deal could be put to national parliaments for approval before the current bailout ends.

New Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose hard-left Syriza party stormed to victory in elections on January 25, has vowed to tear up the bailout program and end austerity measures imposed under it.
“The extension of the agreement has not been accepted,” a Greek government source in Athens said after the talks, adding that negotiations would continue with the aim of “a mutually beneficial agreement” for Greece’s economy.

But the new Greek government has faced fierce opposition from its European partners, especially the austerity-focused economic powerhouse Germany.

Tsipras was due in Brussels yesterday for his first European summit, where he would encounter German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although sources said they had no direct talks scheduled.