NEWS

Tsipras told not to expect breakthrough at EU summit talks

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was due to meet late on Thursday night with a number of key European Union figures in Brussels in a bid to kick-start the stalled negotiations between Athens and its lenders but was warned not to expect a breakthrough.

Following a European Union leaders summit in the Belgian capital, Tsipras was due to meet with a group consisting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem and European Council President Donald Tusk.

The meeting was arranged following requests from Athens as technical teams from Greece and its creditors have made limited progress in the last few days on agreeing reforms that could help unlock at least some of the 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout tranches that the government needs to avoid running out of cash.

“The talks in Athens were paused yesterday,” an EU official told Reuters. “This is normal procedure and can be helpful to take stock. There is willingness to talk but the Greeks must deliver.”

There appeared little prospect, though, of any significant achievements being made at last night’s meeting.

Merkel played down expectations of any noticeable progress at the meeting, stressing that it is still up to the 19 euro-area finance ministers to define the process.

“I want to say: Don’t expect a solution, don’t expect a breakthrough. It’s not the right setting,” she told reporters on arrival at the summit. “Decisions are made in the Eurogroup and that is how it will remain.”

Dijsselbloem also dismissed any hopes that the various parties would come to some kind of conclusion at the mini-gathering.

“Tonight we’ll just take stock of the progress being made, which seems to be small, and I hope we can get the whole thing moving again because we have a lot of work to do,” said the Dutch finance minister.

Ahead of the summit, Tsipras insisted that Greece’s partners needed to do more. “The EU needs more political initiatives that respect both democracy and its treaties so that we leave behind the crisis and move to growth,” he told journalists.

Government sources said that during the European Council meeting that took place ahead of the talks on Greece, Tsipras expressed frustration at the country’s lenders for their objections to the legislation aimed at tackling the social impact of the crisis. Sources said Tsipras told his counterparts that it was unfair for Athens to be accused of unilateral actions.