Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch Finance Minister and President of the Eurogroup, dampened hopes of an imminent deal with Greece citing his disappointment with the progress made in debt negotiations with Athens. His comments came after the country claimed to have handed in a “realistic” plan to its creditors. Mr Dijsselbloem said “there is some progress, but it’s really not enough”. The talks with Athens should unlock another 7.2 billion euros in pending bailout funds and thus help the Greek government make a critical repayment on Friday. “We’re still nowhere far enough, that’s the conclusion and time is pressing,” the Dutch Finance Minister added.
At the beginning of this week, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said that he was hoping for a breakthrough in months-long negotiations. He said that “last night (1 June) a complete plan was submitted… a realistic plan to take the country out of the crisis” and added that “we have made concessions because a negotiation demands concessions, we know these concessions will be difficult”. The EU, however, did not confirm whether it had received Greece’s reform plan, although Brussels said that the exchange of dossier was a positive sign. When Annika Breidthardt, EU Commission spokesperson, was asked about the possibility of a deal, she commented that “we’re not there yet”.
Mr Tsipras meanwhile commented that he believed that the EU leadership would respect Greece’s positions and will “join the side of realism”. The Greek government is committed to strengthening the rights of labour unions despite the fact that the country has about 25 percent unemployment rate. Reportedly, representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the European Commission, Germany and France came up with a “final proposal” for the Greek government on Monday (1 June). No further details have, however, been published except for the fact that the draft deal is 46-page long. Mr Dijsselbloem nevertheless commented that while there could be concessions on the bailout package, there is no space for halfway compromises.