EU rejects Greek plan as Brussels talks face doubt

AFP, BRUSSELS

Thu, Jun 11, 2015 - Page 14

The EU scathingly rejected Athens’s new bailout reform plan yesterday, throwing into doubt a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the leaders of Germany and France aimed at ending the crisis.

Brussels took just a day to dismiss the proposals that Greece submitted on Tuesday to its EU and IMF creditors, which have demanded tough reforms in exchange for giving Athens the rest of a pledged rescue package.

The mood further darkened as officials refused to confirm that a meeting between Tsipras, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of an EU-Latin American summit in Brussels would now take place.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s spokesman said that the “ball is clearly in the court of the Greek government” if it wants to end a five-month standoff.

“Their latest suggestions do not reflect the state of discussions between President Juncker and Prime Minister Tsipras on Wednesday night” and further talks in Brussels this week, spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters.

He declined to say whether the EU was insisting on higher budget surplus targets than those proposed by the Greek government, a key sticking point along with reforms to Greek pensions.

Greece’s creditors have refused to pay out the final 7.2 billion euros (US$8.1 billion) of its bailout, which is due to expire at the end of the month after two previous extensions from last year.

Tsipras issued a dire warning on Tuesday that the fate of the eurozone, the central plank of a European project formed in the ashes of World War II, was at stake if the negotiations fail.

Any agreement would still require the approval of eurozone finance ministers, the Eurogroup, which is due to meet in Luxembourg next week.