GREECE HAS FAILED to submit its much-anticipated new bailout proposals to a meeting of the Eurogroup today, although the president of the Group claims that they will now be submitted tomorrow instead.
Tonight, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters outside the summit that the Greeks have until 8.30am on Friday morning to come up with detailed proposals to solve their debt crisis.
Juncker’s ultimatum comes after the announcement of yet another emergency summit to be held this Sunday to discuss the Greek crisis.
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said this evening after the summit that the target is to conclude the current process by the end of this week at the very latest.
Tsipras had earlier in the evening addressed the gathered Eurozone leaders with his latest plans for a solution to the crisis that has dragged on for months.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile said that she expects Greece to submit proposals for a new multi-year bailout by Thursday.
It seems that we’re finally entering the end game, with just five days remaining to save Greece’s membership of the EU.
Earlier it was claimed that while new Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos didn’t make any new proposals as had been expected at the Eurogroup meeting this morning, he did make a “good presentation” in broadly outlining what the Greeks have in mind.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch president of the Eurogroup, gave a press conference this afternoon where he intimated that Tsakalotos would indeed be bringing his written submissions to the table tomorrow.
Europe’s finance ministers will apparently hold a conference call tomorrow to discuss a request from Greece for assistance through the European Stability Mechanism.
Meanwhile, European leaders arrived to the summit in their droves in the late afternoon.
On his way into the summit, Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke briefly of the need for a positive outcome.
I think that we need a deal here. I think that the time is now to bring some hope and certainty and stability to the people in Greece in the medium term because they’re now suffering.
Back in Dublin, a spokesperson for Kenny said this evening that the government “fully and wholly supports radical debt re-profiling for Greece”.
On RTÉ’s Six One News a short time ago, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that it was now likely that Greece would apply for a third bailout.
He said this would involve a “quite large” sum being borrowed from the eurozone’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is also now set to address the summit tomorrow morning, fresh from outlining his plans for a new bailout for his country to Barack Obama today.
This evening’s special summit is set to begin at 5.30pm (Irish time).
The country’s new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has made his first appearance at today’s meeting of ministers in his new role.
Unfortunately, he seems to have committed something of a diplomatic faux pas by writing his speech notes on clearly visible hotel paper.
Tsakalotos’ notes include a reminder to tone down the ‘triumphalism’ of his speech, which most likely refers to the result in Greece’s referendum last Sunday where Tsakalotos’ Syriza party got the No result they had campaigned for.
Commissioner for the euro Valdis Dombrovskis said this morning that the EU wants Greece in the eurozone, but it could be forced out if it does not produce a credible reform package to satisfy creditors,
“It is not our aim but if trust is not rebuilt; if (there is) no credible reform package (then) it cannot be excluded,” Dombrovskis said when asked if the European Union wanted Greece to leave the single currency zone.
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said ministers would take things “step by step”, but would begin by listening to Tsakalotos.
While, speaking to reporters on his way into the meeting earlier, Noonan said he hoped the proposals being put forward by Greece today would include “a formal application for a new programme” and that the contents “will indicate a sustainable medium term approach”.
“If that happens then that will be assessed in the normal way by the institutions but it’s a lot to do in a very short period of time so I don’t think we’re looking at a conclusion today, but I hope there’s proper engagement,” the Finance Minister said.
Noonan said he had “no idea” of the detail of the plan being put forward by Greece, adding:
What was proposed previously came to an end when the Greek government decided not to continue negotiating.
Minister’s didn’t want to “kick the can down the road for another month,” he said.
“I’ve always stressed we want Greece to stay in the euro group.
To do that we need a growing economy in Greece, and I would hope that the medium term sustainable programme would position Greece for growth and job creation again.
Where are we now?
Greeks rejected reform terms for a new EU-IMF bailout in a historic referendum on Sunday, regarding as a political victory for Prime Minister Tsipras.
The result, however, infuriated many European leaders.
As the Greek economy gasps for air, banks will stay closed until at least Thursday, amid fears cash machines will run dry.
Germany and France, meanwhile, have been presented a united front, calling on Tsipras to make “precise” proposals in a bid to revive talks.
“The door is open to discussions,” French President Francois Hollande yesterday after crisis talks in Paris with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
For her part, Merkel said the conditions for a new Greek rescue package “have not yet been met.”
Speaking earlier to reporters in Dublin this morning, Kenny said he hoped the new Greek proposals would make economic sense.
“We’ll see what will emerge from the proposals that Greece put on the table. I would suggest that, as I did before, that these propositions should make economic sense, should be fair.
Obviously, they’re doing the right thing in bringing these propositions today.
While, speaking on Morning Ireland today, Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney denied a new Greek deal would lead to Ireland seeking better repayment terms.
“Of course they want debt relief, we wanted debt relief… but it’s not on the table,” he said.
Despite its tougher approach to debt relief, Germany said yesterday that eurozone leaders should discuss humanitarian aid for a country fatigued by years of belt-tightening and chronic unemployment.
The White House urged all parties to seek a compromise that would keep Greece in the euro zone and place its economy “on a path toward debt sustainability but also economic growth”.
With reporting from AFP, Cianan Brennan and Hugh O’Connell