Eurozone finance ministers remained cautious over an agreement on debt relief measures for Greece as they arrived in Brussels for talks on the country’s €86 billion bailout program.
“I am working on a deal today, but it won’t be the end deal,” said Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was speaking to reporters ahead of the gathering on Monday.
The Greek government faces repayments in mid-July that amount to roughly €7.4 billion and needs bailout cash from its EU creditors to foot the bill.
In the run-up to the meeting, expectations were rising that a deal was within reach that would convince the International Monetary Fund to participate in the bailout — as demanded, notably, by Germany’s national parliament.
But continued disagreements between the IMF and Berlin over the need for more debt relief, as well as the diverging growth forecasts for the country between IMF and the European Commission are clouding the outcome.
“This is not a matter of political decision-making,” Dijsselbloem said. “You can’t ask a group of ministers to come to some kind of political agreement on what the growth forecasts should be.”
“This is technical work,” he continued. “The experts should discuss this with each other and hopefully they will converge … and not necessarily today.”
Other ministers like Belgium’s Johan Van Overtveldt also offered a cautious outlook on today’s meeting, only saying that “we should … consider all the consequences of an eventual debt relief.”
Ireland’s Michael Noonan, meanwhile, said: “I don’t think we’ll get a full deal today, but we may get a decision on disbursement with the issue of debt write-downs being deferred.”
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