Greek bailout deal is pushed back
The latest stand-off between Greece and its creditors looks set to go on for months as Eurozone finance ministers poured cold water on a quick agreement that would unlock further loans in February.
Where officials had once pinpointed yesterday's meeting of Eurozone finance chiefs as the final chance for a deal before Europe's politicians get too distracted with national elections, now they say the maximum that can be achieved at the talks in Brussels is agreement on when to send bailout monitors back to Athens. "I expect the institutions to have a joint position today and that we'll get to the point today where the technical mission can return to Athens so we can get results," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters as he entered the meeting.
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos met representatives of creditor institutions ahead of the Eurogroup, and sufficient progress was made so that bailout auditors can return to Athens by next week to continue talks, a European official said.
The current impasse - approaching seven years since Greece won its first bailout - stems from a refusal by European creditors to keep funding Greece without the participation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
For its part, the Greek government refuses to comply with the extra austerity demanded by the IMF as a condition of its involvement.Even if bailout auditors return to Athens, funds won't be disbursed before the government completes a list of so-called prior actions attached to the latest review of its bailout (Bloomberg)