Greece’s European creditors insisted early on Friday morning that Athens would need to present a “full and adequate” list of persuasive economic reforms before it could receive a lifeline in bailout funds.
Europe’s longrunning drama over whether Greece will stay in the single currency returned to the centre of EU politics on Thursday. Alexis Tsipras, the new leftwing prime minister, used his second Brussels summit to demand emergency talks with the political leaders of his key creditors.
Following three hours of talks that ended after 2am, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, made it plain that there would be no quick disbursement of emergency aid to Greece unless Tsipras delivered on unfulfilled pledges to supply a full menu of proposed structural reforms to the Greek economy. The credibility of Tsipras’s proposals would need to be supported by eurozone governments before Greece, on the brink of insolvency, could obtain the financial support.
Despite the reluctance of other EU leaders to prioritise Greece in a summit scheduled to deal with issues including Ukraine and the Libya crisis, the prime minister was granted a special meeting with Merkel as well as Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank; the French president, François Hollande; Donald Tusk of Poland, who chairs the summits; and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who heads the Eurogroup of finance ministers.
Both sides – Merkel and Draghi on the one hand and Tsipras on the other – went into the talks with little sign of a shift in their respective stances. A rapid breakthrough was not expected despite the sense that time is not on Athens’s side and that it could run out of money, possibly within weeks.
If there is to be any breakthrough it is more likely to come on Monday when Tsipras goes to Berlin to see Merkel again, diplomats and officials have said.
Following an agreement to extend until June Greece’s €240bn (£173bn) bailout – brokered by the EU, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund – on condition that Athens delivers on promised fiscal and structural reforms to it economy, things have gone from bad to worse in the relationship.