Greek debt crisis: Eurozone finance ministers divided in tough talks

James Nickerson
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Tsakalotos has the tough job of convincing other eurogroup finance ministers of Greece's credibility (Source: Getty)

The finance ministers of the Eurozone countries have warned there will be tough negotiations as they meet to discuss whether Greece’s new reform proposals are a basis for a third bailout.

Eurogroup chief and Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said there was a “major issue of trust”, while Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister, said the talks would be “extremely difficult”.

The Greek parliament voted through proposals that Tsipras hopes will be a basis for negotiations, including amending VAT, pensions and tax – concessions Tsipras was previously not willing to make and a plan including measures rejected in last Sunday’s referendum in Greece.

Technical experts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund have recommended that Greece’s proposals could be a basis for negotiations. While this is an important step, opinion amongst the eurogroup is divided.

Read more: Greece passes first hurdle as it gets green light for its proposals ahead of crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers

The 19 Eurozone ministers are gathering in Brussels to discuss these plans, many of which said they still needed to be convinced Athens would follow through on its proposals, indicating a lack of trust after months of painful disputes.

“There are many concerns, quite a bit of criticism both on the content of the proposals, but also on the even more difficult issue of trust," Dijsselbloem said.

How can we really expect this government to implement what it's now promising? I think it's going to be quite a difficult meeting.

France, meanwhile, has shown optimism and said it would play a mediating role in the meeting. Yet, Michel Sapin, France’s finance minister, said ministers would need to build confidence once again.

Tspiras is asking the creditors for €53.5bn (£38.4bn) to cover the country’s debts until 2018, but this could reach €74bn as Greece seeks to restructure its debt, which it says is unsustainable.

The job of convincing the finance ministers has fallen to Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s new finance minister, who replaced Yanis Varoufakis. After showing up empty handed after the referendum, he will have his work cut out for him.

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