Eurogroup finance ministers converged Friday around a growing consensus to give Athens «more time» to meet economic targets under its delayed bailout, although hardliners insisted there would be any «extra money».
“If the deficit turns out to be somewhat worse than expected because of a temporary downturn in the economy, there could be some more time — but not money, not extra money,» said Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager.
He also stressed, however: «There could be no time for delaying measures because it’s in the interests of Greece and the people of Greece that reform measures will continue.
“It’s in their own interests to settle things right.”
Austria’s Maria Fekter adopted the same line, saying «we will give them the time they need for that but probably not more money,» the day after France’s Pierre Moscovici offered the possibility of some flexibility following a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens.
The ministers were still to start their informal talks just after 0830 GMT, but IMF managing director Christine Lagarde had arrived to present interim findings by the «troika» of international lenders behind the bailout on progress in Greece since Samaras won power.
In Washington on the eve of the talks, International Monetary Fund spokesman Gerry Rice had also said: «There are good arguments to extend the period for Greece to implement its fiscal adjustment.
“We said such an extension would be dependent on the ability of financing,» Rice said.