Greece and its international creditors failed to agree on a way forward on the country’s unpopular bailout and will try again on Monday, with time running out for a cash lifeline.
In seven hours of crisis talks in Brussels that ended after midnight on Wednesday, euro zone finance ministers were unable to agree even a joint statement on the next procedural steps. Both sides played down the setback, insisting there had been no rupture.
“We had an intense discussion, constructive, covering a lot of ground, also making progress, but not enough progress yet to come to joint conclusions,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of Eurogroup finance ministers, said.
“We didn’t actually go into detailed proposals, we didn’t enter into negotiations on content of the programme or a programme, we simply tried to work next steps over the next couple of days. We were unable to do that.” Dijsselbloem said.
Greece would have no further contact with experts from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank before Monday, he said.
The talks came after the EU had warned that the new government had to scale back its plans to revise the unpopular austerity measures if it wanted to secure cash needed for pressing debt repayments.
But Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, has said he will not accept demands by Germany that his government first complete a pending loan agreement with the EU and the IMF in order to secure a bailout.
Greece wants the European Central Bank to hand over 1.9bn euros ($2.2bn) in profits made from Greek state bonds.
Greece also wants ECB permission to issue up to 8bn euros ($9bn) in short-term debt to meet its immediate financing needs, and to tap a European support fund originally created to prop up Greek banks.
Looking confident as when he had arrived at his first such talks, Yanis Varoufakis, Greece finance minister, said: “Now we are proceeding to the next meeting on Monday. We hope that by the end of that one, there is going to be a conclusion in a manner that is optimal both for the perspective of Greece and our European partners.”
Spelling out how Greek voters had rejected the “toxic” austerity dictated by international lenders that rescued Greece after the global financial crisis, he said he hoped for a “healing deal” on Monday and stressed that, while much remained undone, “not finding a solution is not in our rationale”.
Varoufakis and his delegation had a prior meeting with Christine Lagarde, IMF chief, who flew to Brussels to join the talks in a sign of the IMF’s concern about the Greek crisis, which is weighing on global financial markets.
“They are competent, intelligent, they’ve thought about their issues. We have to listen to them, we are starting to work together and it is a process that is starting and is going to last a certain time,” Lagarde said.