THE Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers on Monday evening ended without agreement between the EU and Greece, after the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis rejected the ‘extension’ of the austerity bail-out programme.
This document presented by Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem contained terms unacceptable to the Greek government, Varoufakis said.
The main point was that Greece should ‘apply for a 6-month extension’ to the austerity bail-out programme along the terms agreed between EU and Greece in November 2012, i.e., privatisations, flexible working conditions, wages and pensions cuts.
After the meeting Dijsselbloem said that the Greek government had until Friday to request an extension, otherwise the bail-out programme would expire at the end of February, indicating that then there will be no finances for Greece.
At a subsequent press conference on Monday night, the Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis insisted that earlier to the Eurogroup meeting he had agreed on a communique with European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, but this was withdrawn and a different document was presented to the Eurogroup by Dijsselbloem.
Varoufakis admitted that he was ready ‘right there and then’ to sign the Muscovici communiqué which made huge concessions to the EU demands.
Varoufakis revealed that ‘70 per cent’ of the current austerity programme was acceptable to the Greek government and that the negotiations were about the ‘remaining 30 per cent’. The Moscovici communiqué contained terms that Greece would not take any ‘unilateral’ measures.
At a joint press conference Dijsselbloem, Moscovici and IMF head Christine Lagarde insisted that the only choice for Greece was to apply for an extension to the austerity bail-out programme.
But Varoufakis said that he ‘had no doubt’ that in the next two days Greece and the Eurogroup will ‘find the phrasing so we can move on to do the real work to find the common ground that is good for Greece and Europe’.
This is not a compromise offered by Varoufakis, it is a submission to the EU demands that the only way is the austerity way.
However in the last ten days huge workers rallies in Athens and all over Greece, along with solidarity rallies throughout the world, have insisted that the Greek government should ‘not take a step backwards’ and that the austerity programme was over.