LIVE: Brutal demands made on Greece to save it from total bankruptcy
Tempers flare in marathon tense meetings
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna says Greece has to sanction tough reforms by Wednesday if it is to get further help to save it from total bankruptcy. He also confirmed that a temporary Greek exit from the eurozone was on the cards, should it fail to abide by the demands made by creditors. However, sources said this morning the proposal had been ruled out from the final document.
"The Greek Prime Minister is realising the catastrophic implications of not getting immediate funding," Prof. Scicluna told reporters in Brussels.
Eurozone leaders and finance ministers were involved in crucial meetings since 10am yesterday morning as Greece's euro fate rests on a knife edge.
On Friday, Greek MPs backed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's tough new proposals to secure a third bailout. The proposals are aimed at staving off financial collapse and preventing a possible exit from the eurozone.
However, eurozone finance ministers have raised issues of trust and questioned whether Greece can indeed deliver on its pledges.
Herman Grech is in Brussels giving constant updates:
5.30am - A sources says the contentious "time-out" proposal, suggesting Greece exits the eurozone until it gets its house in order, has failed to make it to the final document.
4.50am - Journalists in the press bar area (the ones that are awake) are wondering how the right decisions, which could almost dictate a country's fate, could be taken at this hour.
4.15am - There could be light at the end of a very long dark tunnel. President Donald Tusk's spokesman tweets a compromise deal is within reach:
4am - The main press room has turned into a dormitory for journalists and photographers as eurozone leaders continue trying to hammer out an agreement on Greece.
1.50am - Reports of some progress at the discussions. According to Politico, Tsipras has agreed to many of the creditors’ proposals, including the involvement of the IMF. But if there is a deal, Greece is going to need some money immediately. The latest idea is that France, Italy or Germany could stump up a quick loan to Greece that could then be endorsed by the European Financial Stability Fund. That endorsement would need to be approved by the formation that gathers together the EU’s 28 finance ministers. They meet in Brussels on Tuesday. Another unconfirmed report is that the request for Greece to sell €50 billion of its assets has been dumped.
12.55am - Desperate times call for desperate measures. As the meetings surrounding the Greek bailout enter the 15th hour, and with no end in sight, reporters at the Brussels press room create their own makeshift resting spaces.
12.20am - #thisisacoup is now trending on Twitter as users vent their anger against the demands being forced on Greece. It’s tied in with another hashtag: #TsiprasLeaveEUSummit. The Greek leader is still around though.
11.30pm - Some analytical pieces and tomorrow's front page headlines lash out at the tough demands. The Guardian says: Europe Takes Revenge on Tsipras. Paul Krugman says in The New York Times: It’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.
11.10pm - And of course as the hours roll by, and the tiredness sets in, tempers begin to flare inside the negotiation room. According to sources, there are tensions between Germany, France and Greece. Tsipras is clearly getting wind of the unrest enveloping Athens as the tough demands become known.
10.20pm - To recap - according to press reports, the countries which are said to be open to a Grexit are: Germany, Slovakia, Latvia, Netherlands, Austria, Malta, Belgium, Finland, Lithuania. The countries which are wavering but would rather avoid a Greek exit are: Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Slovenia and Estonia. The countries which want to avoid a Grexit at all costs are: Italy, France, Spain and Luxembourg. However, a source close to the negotiations told timesofmalta.com that Malta would still rather avoid a Greek exit.
10pm - There are reports the Greeks are not prepared to negotiate on two of the most contentious issues: selling €50 billion of its assets or eventually discussing a temporary Grexit.
8.55pm - According to The Guardian, Tsipras was given a very rough ride in his meeting with Tusk, Merkel and Hollande. Tsipras was told that Greece will either become an effective “ward” of the eurozone, by agreeing to immediately implement swift reforms this week or, it leaves the euro area and watches its banks collapse. One official dubbed it “extensive mental waterboarding”, in an attempt to make the Greek PM fall into line. There's talk of major unrest within Syriza this evening. Expect major political upheaval in Athens in the coming week.
8.40pm - Meanwhile, protesters are gathering in central Athens to protest against the austerity measures being imposed by the creditors. One side's solution is clearly going to be the other side's nightmare.
8.25pm - Euro summit resumes as journalists in Brussels' press room start placing bets on whether this session could outdo last month's migration summit, which clocked off at the ungodly hour of 3.30am!
8.15pm - Criticism is mounting that Germany is pushing Greece to the brink to force it out of the eurozone. A proposal that Greece hands over €50bn of state assets has gone down rather badly:
An EU entity set up to seize "naughty" EZ state's assets. And rest of EZ not only didn't fight it, but demanded it! Game-set-match, Germany.— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) July 12, 2015
6.45pm - This picture of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras probably says it all. He now potentially has to try sell major austerity measures to the Greeks, a week after they rejected them in a referendum he himself called.
6.35pm - So the situation at the moment is this: Greece has been instructed to push through major reforms through its Parliament by Wednesday - that includes huge pension reform - if it is to receive further help from its eurozone partners. Which is ironic, since a week ago, the Greeks voted against such sweeping austerity measures. Can't see the far-left Syriza government surviving such reforms. But time will tell.
6.20pm A Greek official says Tsipras will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and European Council President Donald Tusk on the sidelines of the summit.
Greece is racing to convince its international creditors that it will deliver tough reforms- which include tax hikes, pension cuts and privatisations- in order to secure a cash-for-reforms deal and remain in the euro zone.
6pm Joseph Muscat says in a tweet: Eurogroup document is most significant step so far.
5.40pm - Finance Minister Edward Scicluna says Greece has to accept six key actions by Wednesday before any further discussions on bailout. What has led to a change of heart? "Tsipras is realising the catastrophic implications of not getting immediate funding." But he also points out: "If we’re stuck, the alternative would be to negotiate a timeout – a temporary exit."
4.40pm - Meanwhile, anger is mounting among many on the social media that eurozone leaders are demanding too much from a cash-strapped country.
The Euro-terrorists meeting in Brussels think that a 25% contraction of the Greek economy is not enough. They demand more austerity! #Grexit— Philippe Marlière (@PhMarliere) July 12, 2015
4.15pm - Eurogroup meeting is over, and the prospects appear bleak. Head of eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem says "We have come a long way, solved a lot of issues, but some big issues still remain remain". Eurozone leaders will be informed.
4pm - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says he wants Greece to remain in the eurozone but not at all costs. He says the situation in Greece during the past few days has deteriorated in a "tragic" manner. He says that there needs to be a realisation that what was enough 10 days ago might not be enough today, because the situation in Greece has deteriorated. Asked if there are sufficient conditions to start negotiations, Dr Muscat said that would have to be established but there were at least two eurozone member states that required a parliamentary mandate.
3.45pm - Things are certainly not looking good for Tsipras. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says "the most important currency has been lost: that is trust and reliability." Germany has taken a tough line on Greece and has questioned whether the Greek government will deliver the reforms it has promised in exchange for a financial rescue package. Meanwhile, restrained smiles and exchanges between Merkel and Tsipras at the beginning of the summit. France President Hollande increasingly assuming the role of referee. He says future of Europe is at stake if Greece leaves the eurozone.
3.10pm - Meanwhile, let's remember that while the EU decides Greece's euro fate, Greeks may only withdraw a maximum of €60 after the imposition of capital controls in Greek banks.
3pm - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at the summit and says: "We can reach an agreement tonight if all parties want it."
2.50pm - An EU official said the majority of the finance ministers were determined that the Greek offer to accede to new negotiations were "insufficient", so this goes beyond Germany's reluctance to give any concessions to Athens. He didn't say whether they are optimistic a deal can be reached today, but are trying to set the right conditions for new negotiations. Meanwhile, eurozone leaders have started arriving for the crunch meeting.
2.30pm - There's clearly a split between some of the 'big' eurozone countries about Greece's fate. Italian Prime Minister Matteo told Il Messaggero newspaper: “Now common sense must prevail and an agreement must be reached. Italy does not want Greece to exit the euro and to Germany I say: enough is enough." Should be interesting when the leaders meet around the table from 4pm.
2.15pm - Two hours into talks, it's looking increasingly likely there would be no final decision about the Greek debt crisis by tonight. Evidently, some countries have trust issues with Greece.
Eurozone official says hardline countries want to wait until Wednesday to see #greece pass reforms in Parliament before deal— AnneSylvaineChassany (@ChassNews) July 12, 2015
1.10pm - Look behind you! Pictures are coming in from the Eurogroup in process. This picture from Reuters probably says it all: Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos sits for the meeting as International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde looks on behind him.
1pm - Reuters reports Luxembourg's foreign minister has made an impassioned plea for Germany to avoid a Greek exit from the euro, warning Berlin of a catastrophic schism with France if it pushes for Athens to leave the currency union.
11.40am - Let's just recall what Greece's latest measures include:
- Standard VAT rate of 23%, including restaurants and catering.
- Phase out solidarity grant for pensioners by 2016.
- Srapping 30% tax break for wealthiest islands.
- Cut defence spending cuts by €300m by 2016.
- Privatise ports and sell-off remaining shares in telecoms giant OTE.
11am - Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna says Greek figures just keep going up and are not credible. He says ministers of different countries, including Malta, are exploring ways of extending the present agreement but could not favour a debt haircut. He says it doesn't make sense for Greece to leave the eurozone in a haphazard manner. Malta is prepared to support Greek bailout provided a proper monitoring framework is in place.
10.50am - Italian Finance Minister Padoan tells reporters that the main obstacle to moving forward is lack of trust. Wants Greek Parliament to start taking steps tomorrow.
10.40am - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says Malta wants a solution but not at any price. Let's remember Malta had loaned Greece €170 million, which was now equivalent to two per cent of GDP.
10.13am - Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, arrives for meeting without giving any comments to the press.
9.55am - EU Council President Donald Tusk says he has cancelled EU leaders summit for this afternoon to give space for eurozone leaders to discuss the Greek debt crisis.