At least one German believes a deal with Greece is possible – EU commissioner Guenter Oettinger says agreement could be reached by end of week
Against a background of pessimism from everyone involved, there is one German official who believes a deal between Greece and its creditors is in sight.
Guenter Oettinger, Germany's EU commissioner, said this morning a deal could be achieved this week.
"We will need progress at the working group level, in order that we can agree on a reform agenda, perhaps even by the end of the week, which would trigger the payment of the last tranche of aid from the current aid programme," he told Die Welt newspaper.
He said talks had brought progress to topics such as VAT, although he acknowledged differences remained on the labour market and pension system.
He added that he didn't expect a solution to come from today's meeting between German chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker in Berlin.
Optimism thin on the ground
Greece has a series of repayments to make to the IMF and ECB over the coming months, but it is quickly running out of cash to meet the demands. It desperately needs to unlock its last tranche of bailout money if it wants to avoid a default, and to do this its .
Experts have become increasingly pessimistic about Greece's ability to meet demands from lenders, needed to unlock a €7.2bn tranche of bailout money.
“It is a lie that there is any optimism. There is no optimism. What the so-called optimism is about is stopping panic-stricken Greeks withdrawing deposits from banks,” one source told The Guardian.
“Time is not operating in the interests of the Greeks, but the EU. The showdown is fast approaching and nothing can be ruled out. Very soon we may see staged capital controls.”
Despite those on the other side of the negotiating table taking a very different view, Greek ministers have come across as positive about a deal. But now even Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has revealed the deep uncertainty pervading the talks, suddenly lashing out at the “absurd proposals” put forward by international creditors.
“The lack of an agreement so far is not due to the supposed intransigent, uncompromising and incomprehensible Greek stance,” he wrote in French daily Le Monde. “It is due to the insistence of certain institutional actors on submitting absurd proposals and displaying a total indifference to the recent democratic choice of the Greek people.”
Over the course of June, Greece must hand €1.6bn (£1.2bn) over to the IMF. The first of these payments is due later this week.