Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

European finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to try and reach a new deal on Greece?s bailout, which it wants restructured.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) say there should be no change to the conditions of the ?240bn (?178bn) loan.

A Greek official said there would be no deal today, but talks are continuing.

?Some people?s insistence on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable and cannot be accepted,? Reuters quoted the official as saying.

?Those who keep returning to this issue are wasting their time. Under such circumstances, there cannot be a deal today.?

Greece?s current bailout expires on 28 February. Any new agreement would need to be approved by national governments so time is running out to reach a compromise, without which Greece is likely to run out of money.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had already said he was not optimistic a deal would be reached.

Mr Schaeuble told German radio: ?The problem is that Greece has lived beyond its means for a long time and that nobody wants to give Greece money any more without guarantees,? Mr Schaeuble said.

But French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said European leaders needed to respect the political change in Athens. As he arrived in Brussels he urged the Greeks to extend their current deal to allow time for talks.

?Difficult negotiations?

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Germany?s Stern magazine at the weekend that his government needed time to carry out reforms and put the mismanagement of the past behind it.

?I expect difficult negotiations; nevertheless I am full of confidence,? he said. ?I promise you: Greece will then, in six months? time, be a completely different country.?

Greece has proposed a new bailout programme that involves a bridging loan to keep the country going for six months and help it repay ?7bn (?5.2bn) of maturing bonds.

The second part of the plan would see the county?s debt refinanced. Part of this might be through ?GDP bonds? ? bonds carrying an interest rate linked to economic growth.

Greece also wants to see a reduction in the primary surplus target ? the surplus the government must generate (excluding interest payments on debt) ? from 3% to 1.49% of GDP.

In Greece last week, two opinion polls indicated that more than three-quarters of Greeks supported Mr Tsipras?s hardline stance.

According to the polls, 79% of Greeks backed the government?s policies and 74% believed its negotiating strategy would succeed.

Source: BBC


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