The eurozone needs the IMF on board in Greece’s massive bailout despite deep divisions over debt relief, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Tuesday.
“It’s not an option to go on without the IMF,” Dijsselbloem said as he arrived for talks with eurozone finance ministers to end a row between Europe and the International Monetary Fund over how to proceed with Greece's 86-billion-euro ($96 billion) bailout.
“There is a reason to look at debt relief because the debt is very high and there will be some problems in the future, I think the debt analysis shows that,” Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch Finance Minister, added.
“How big these problems are and how we can deal with them and when we can deal with them, that's today’s topic,” he said.
Slovakian Finance Minister Peter Kazimir warned the meeting “is not going to be an easy one.”
“I’m afraid we will spend the night together,” he said, harking back to the long nights of talks that led up to last year’s bailout.
The ministers will also decide whether to conclude the first review of Greece’s third bailout to unlock up to 11 billion euros in desperately needed loans.
“I hope this Eurogroup will be an important step forward as regards the conclusion of the first review of the Greek program,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Commission’s vice-president in charge of the euro. “We hope we will be able to really reach agreement in principle.”
The talks came two days after Greek lawmakers narrowly adopted another batch of controversial reform commitments in order to deliver the much-needed payout.
Greece needs the next tranche of bailout money to repay big loans to the European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF in July, and has already fallen behind in paying for everyday government duties and public sector wages.