With the arrival of Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, to Brussels, negotiations between Eurogroup members and Greece seem to have taken a bit of a more upbeat tone.
Tsipras met with Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem, and agreed that representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF should work on the details of a possible deal before the Eurogroup on Monday in Brussels.
“[We] agreed today to ask the institutions to engage with the Greek authorities to start work on a technical assessment of the common ground between the current program and the Greek government’s plans,” Dijsselbloem tweeted. This, he said, would pave the way for crucial talks between eurozone finance ministers next Monday.
“We leave today having made some significant steps,” said Tsipras at a late night press conference following the summit. “The technical teams will work over the next few days to prepare the ground for Monday’s Eurogroup.”
Tsipras insisted that he did not feel “isolated” at the EU Council and said that he explained to his counterparts that the government wants to combine the mandate it has received with Greece’s obligations as an EU member. But he insisted that Athens would not accept the continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding or the troika in its existing role.
“The memorandum as we knew it is over,” he said. “The same goes for the troika.”
The head of the council of economic advisers, Giorgos Houliarakis, is due to meet on Friday in Brussels with Declan Costello of the European Commission, Klaus Masuch of the ECB and Rishi Goyal of the IMF. The head of the Euro Working Group, Thomas Wieser, will also take part in the meeting.
Greece and its lenders will have to work out which 70 percent of the reforms being demanded by the troika will be adopted and how the implementation of these measures will be carried out.
After speaking to Dijsselbloem, Tsipras also met Merkel for the first time in the EU Council chamber.
According to government sources, Merkel congratulated Tsipras on his election and said, “I hope we will have good cooperation despite the difficulties.” Tsipras smiled back and replied, “I hope so.”
Before the summit began, Merkel commented on the Greek situation.
“Europe always aims to find a compromise, and that is the success of Europe,” she said on arrival in Brussels. “Germany is ready for that. However, it must also be said that Europe’s credibility naturally depends on us respecting rules and being reliable with each other.”