So is the key to Dijsselbloem’s statement on the new (old) Greek proposal the “not good enough” part, or the word “yet”?
Greece’s proposal “is not good enough yet,” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters Saturday as he arrived for emergency consultations with his euro-area colleagues in Brussels. What’s more, the failure to implement earlier agreements “is still a big concern,” he said.
The wall of skepticism came hours after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won overwhelming support in Parliament for a package of spending cuts, pension savings and tax increases that would clinch the country’s third bailout since 2010. The finance ministers’ talks will be followed by a summit scheduled for Sunday, the deadline for a new agreement.
Officials from the creditor institutions gave the proposals a cautious welcome, with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde foreseeing “a lot more progress.” German skepticism may yet overshadow that prospect.
“We’re going to have extraordinarily difficult negotiations,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said upon his arrival. “Hope built over years on Greece until the end of last year was destroyed at an unimaginable level up until the last days and hours.”
In a prelude to the Brussels showdown, Tsipras won a majority of 251 votes in the 300-seat parliament for his bailout proposals, but at a cost. More than a dozen members of his Syriza party refused to back the plan with some of them denouncing the harsh austerity measures it prescribes less than a week after Tsipras won an anti-austerity referendum. The prime minister said after the vote that his priority would be to complete negotiations with the creditors on a bailout deal.
An agreement is possible but not certain, Tsipras told lawmakers as the debate began in the early hours of Saturday.
“The institutions have analyzed the Greek proposals and we have jointly decided that they constitute a basis for negotiating a new financial assistance program,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters in Brussels.
Greece’s international creditors still view the country’s reform proposals as insufficient to meet budget surplus targets, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said, citing an assessment paper provided to euro-area finance ministers.
“Can the Greek government be trusted to act do what they are promising, to actually implement in the coming months and years?” Dijsselbloem said. “I think those are the key issues.”