Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Wednesday had his first Eurogroup meeting, with the focus entirely on his country. Nothing official has emerged, but according to one report, a statement was within minutes of being agreed upon before it was torpedoed by Athens.
This, from the Financial Times’ Peter Spiegel, is reportedly the statement the finance ministers almost signed off on:
The Greek authorities have expressed their commitment to a broader and stronger reform process aimed at durably improving growth prospects. At the same time, the Greek authorities reiterated their unequivocal commitment to the financial obligations to all their creditors.
On this basis, we will now start technical work on the further assessment of Greece’s reform plans. The Greek authorities have agreed to work closely and constructively with the institutions to explore the possibilities for extending and successfully concluding the present programme taking into account the new government’s plans.
If this is successful this will bridge the time for the Greek authorities and the Eurogroup to work on possible new contractual arrangements. We will continue our discussions at our next meeting on Monday 16 February.
There are reports Thursday that this text was ultimately blocked by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with Varoufakis reportedly having been unhappy with it:
According to Spiegel, however, Varoufakis had actually agreed to the deal before it was vetoed by Athens.
“Present programme” at the end of the third paragraph is likely to be the bit Greece’s government objected to. Athens does not want to explore the possibility of extending its current bailout agreement. Tsipras and Varoufakis have repeatedly said the bailout agreement is over.