Hopes for debt deal low despite French push


European officials indicated on Monday that they had few hopes for a comprehensive agreement at Thursday’s Eurogroup that will pave the way for Greece to join the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing plan, despite a French push for a deal.

France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, was in Athens Monday to discuss a proposal whereby relief measures for Greece’s mountainous debt would be strengthened when growth is weak and relaxed when growth is strong. However, he admitted that securing a deal would be “difficult and complex.”

Towards the end of their televised exchange, Le Maire showed Tsipras a small bracelet on his wrist which he said he bought while on the Aegean island of Amorgos and which symbolizes luck. “With our optimism and with the luck of the Greek gods, we will make it,” he said.

Tsipras, for his part, sought to appear confident that a deal will be struck on Thursday, noting that he was not planning to broach the matter with his peers at an EU summit on June 22.

European officials did not appear to share his optimism. One official told Kathimerini that France’s proposal would do very little to boost the possibility of a deal that would open the doors to the ECB’s QE program and even less so to secure the International Monetary Fund’s stamp of approval for the sustainability of Greece’s debt.

One thing all sides believe is certain on Thursday is the approval of bailout funding. Greece needs its next loan tranche to repay 7 billion euros in maturing debt in July.

Athens is also keen to convince its EU partners to spell out what sort of debt relief measures it can expect and when. But progress on the issue has been stymied by disagreements among creditors about the country’s growth projections and the sustainability of its debt.