The emergency Eurogroup meeting between Greece and its Eurozone partners ended on Wednesday with talks on the country’s fiscal program to continue on Monday. During the talks, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis pointed to the failure of previous bailout loans, providing data to prove his point that they had caused a “humanitarian crisis”.
Greek Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis, along with Varoufakis, presented what Athens calls a “bridge program”, along with the series of measures and reforms this would entail, but without austerity.
Initially, the meeting was calm with partners interested in the Greek proposal, however, discontent was shown concerning the fate of the current program, which runs out on Feb. 28. Sources state that three draft plans were formulated but in the end there was no joint statement.
Tom Nuttall of the Economist stated that a deal had been reached at some point, but then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and a number of other EU finance ministers departed from the meeting, believing that a statement had been agreed. Varoufakis took the floor again with objections to the wording of the deal and it fell apart.
The meeting continued into the early morning hours of Thursday with the new Greek government staunchly rejecting an extension of the current bailout agreement after the end of February.
STATEMENTS AFTER THE MEETING
By Greek FinMin Varoufakis:
“It was fascinating we had a very constructive and extensive discussion of all the facets of the Greek Greek crisis and the way in which the Eurogroup can take transition to a new phase. We heard many very different interesting opinions and had the opportunity to table our views and now the Eurogroup will meet in a few days on Monday hoping that there will be conclusions in a manner that is optimal for both Greece and our partners. The Eurogroup was never meant to settle any issues. i was invited because I am the new kid on the block, so to speak. I was given a wonderful opportunity and a warm welcome to pesent our views, our analysis, our proposals both regarding the substance and regarding the road map.”
Remarks made by Dutch PM and Eurogroup President Jeroem Dijsselbloem:
Today, as you well know, we had an extra Eurogroup to start our talks with the new Greek colleague, to already cover some ground in advance of the regular Eurogroup, which is on Monday.
It was the first opportunity to meet and to listen to the new Greek colleague on their plans, ambitions of their government. And that was very welcome and useful. We had an intense discussion and constructive, covering a lot of ground, also making progress, but not enough progress at this point to come to joint conclusions. So, we will continue our talks on Monday.
On Monday, we have a regular Eurogroup, with a number of items on the agenda, but we will also continue our talks on Greece and our current and future cooperation with Greece. That is where we stand. So, there are no real conclusions, which I can share with you. You will have to bear with us a little longer. We will continue our talks on Monday. And that is as far I can go, at this point. I am open to all your questions, but I am already going to say to you to be patient and I will probably repeat that five times to your questions. But I will try anyway.
European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici:
Prior to the meeting he said that he is “quite certain that we have the same goal. The goal is to have Greece staying in the eurozone.” At the end of the meeting, he viewed the discussion as useful, but despite efforts a joint statement could not be made.
“There is no proposition from the Commission. The Commission has already worked a lot and has identified the parameters, has ideas and knows the financial needs. It is there to play a role, as always, to facilitate a compromise,” said Moscovici said.His comments came after a news report on Wednesday stated that the European Commission had prepared an informal plan for Greece to be granted a six-month period during which it should embark on achieving a new deal with its creditors on issues such as structural reform commitments and bridge financing.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble:
“Greece is free to do as it likes, but I would be interested to hear what it would plan to do outside the programme,” he said, continuing that “this programme has to be completed or there will be no programme”.