NEWS

No breakthrough expected at Eurogroup despite Faymann visit, Juncker call

Expectations are low for significant progress in Greece’s talks with its lenders at Thursday’s meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg, despite a brief phone call between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last night.

A European official told journalists that he expects the discussion regarding Greece at Thursday’s Eurogroup to be brief as creditors are expecting new proposals from Athens. The government insists it has already made adequate suggestions to meet the agreed fiscal targets.

“The margins for new cuts in pensions have been exhausted,” said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after meeting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann in Athens. “We can’t understand the obsession of the lenders with pension cuts.”

“If we don’t have an honorable compromise and an economically viable solution, we will take the responsibility to say a big no to the continuation of a catastrophic policy,” added the premier.

Tsipras spoke with Juncker for only 10 minutes on Wednesday. There was no clear suggestion that either side is considering submitting new proposals at Thursday’s meeting.

Asked on Wednesday during a visit to the offices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris whether he thought a deal could be reached at the Eurogroup, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said: “I don’t think so. Now it is up to political leaders to arrive at an accord.”

Faymann said he coordinated his visit with Juncker and was hopeful that a solution could be found, even though he admitted it would be a difficult task. “I can’t see a solution lying before me but I see that if we are convinced we want one, we have a good chance,” said the Austrian.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the finance committee in Germany’s lower house that, while he remains hopeful Greece and its creditors will reach an agreement by June 30, the German government is also preparing for failure, two lawmakers told Bloomberg.

“We can’t offer further compromises,” said Eckhardt Rehberg, a Christian Democratic lawmaker. “It’s the Greek people, ordinary citizens, who will have the biggest problems if there’s a default, with no agreement or solution.”