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Greece fails to reach bailout deal with eurozone finance ministers

29 May 2017

Euro-area finance ministers gathering in Brussels on Monday failed to break an impasse on debt relief for Greece, delaying the completion of the country's bailout review and the disbursement of about 7 billion euros ($7.9 billion) in fresh loans. The Washington-based fund says it won't join the country's latest bailout without clarity on the matter.

European Union and International Monetary Fund negotiators will return to Athens on April 25 to finalise a new round of Greek reforms.

Under the terms of the Greek bailout program, the country has to enact a series of economic reforms in order to get the bailout cash.

The stumbling block will be on the issue of debt, where institutions like EC, ECB, European Stability Mechanism, IMF and countries differ as to whether the medium and long term relief measures already planned since 2016 are sufficient or if they should be further expanded to provide guarantees on the viability of Greek debt in the future.

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"That is why we have to see how we can find a solution with the International Monetary Fund, so that the International Monetary Fund can be part of the program without breaching its rules".

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a news conference that work was progressing for the disbursement to take place "before the summer".

"I feel a strong willingness by all parties without exception to reach an overall deal", the EU's Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in a news briefing.

The Greek government had hoped that Monday night's meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers would at least have seen it cleared to get the money. The European Commission is one of the monitors of Greece's bailout program.

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As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's global broadcaster, Germany's larger coalition partner, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), opposes debt relief.

Le Maire attended the Brussels talks after a morning stop in Berlin where he met Schaeuble, with the pair agreeing to speed up eurozone integration.

Hopes were high that the deadlock could be broken after Greek lawmakers last Thursday adopted a new round of additional, painful austerity measures.

Referring to Britain's looming exit from the EU, Le Maire stressed France and Germany meant to seize any opportunities for their financial industries. The lack of reform and economic competitiveness is the core issue, and the Greek government needs to spur economic growth and domestic investment. He, like Dijsselbloem, said that "extra measures if required" would come after the bailout program expires next year.

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The phone conversation was the first contact between the two since Mr Macron's election earlier this month. While the eurozone has ruled out any debt write-off, it has indicated that extending Greece's repayment periods or reducing the interest rates on its loans are possible at the conclusion of the bailout next year. One woman blamed the Greek government: "I'm disgusted". If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.