Wednesday 24 January 2018

Taoiseach meets with right wing European leaders ahead of informal EU summit

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in Brussels this morning for a meeting with right wing European leaders ahead of this afternoon's informal EU summit.

Mr Kenny and 10 fellow leaders who belong to the European People's Party grouping are gathering amid the mounting Greek crisis.

The leaders are gathering at the Sofitel Hotel near the EU Council building to discuss the crisis in Greece.

News is breaking that the Summit will be delayed by several hours today because of the ongoing talks with Russia on Ukraine involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

European sources have played down any hope of real progress being made at the full council meeting.

A key meeting on Greece between euro zone finance ministers broke up without agreement early this morning as the standoff between the country and its creditors worsened.

Leaving the meeting, finance minister Michael Noonan said the Government has made no decision on whether Ireland will seek to replicate any concessions made to Greece as part of that country's efforts to tackle its debt.

Last night's meeting was on the verge of agreeing a joint statement on the country’s dire financial situation, but the draft was shelved at the last moment.

Despite initial agreement, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis raised fresh objections at the last minute after German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, had left the meeting minutes earlier.

He left in the belief a joint statement had been settled on a route forward for the talks.

Mr Varousfakis’s late intervention was said to have followed phone calls to Athens.

At a brief press conference shortly after midnight, chairman of the meeting, Netherlands finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said there would be no further talks until another scheduled gathering of ministers next Monday.

The expiry of EU-IMF programme for Greece at the end of this month has already led the European Central Bank to withdraw some support for country’s banks on the basis that it sees no prospect of the scheme continuing.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provisionally agreed a $17.5 billion extended fund facility with Ukraine, part of an overall $40 billion funding package for the country, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said this morning.

Ms Lagarde said the IMF team working in Kiev had reached agreement with the Ukraine government on the four-year facility, although this still needed to be approved by the IMF's board.

The IMF chief said Ukraine would receive additional funding from other sources, with the overall package around $40 billion.

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