EU officials swiftly dismiss Greek reform offer

European Union officials on Tuesday swiftly dismissed new Greek promises of economic reform, saying the proposals were not enough to unlock funds that Athens urgently needs to avoid defaulting on its debts.
Despite signs that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is adopting a more conciliatory line as time runs short for a deal, the officials in Brussels were quick to declare that Greeceand’s international lenders would not accept the latest proposals on tax, debt and the budget. The chief spokesman for the European Commission said the EU executive was still studying the suggestions and stressed that other officials do not speak for the Commission. But the EU officials passed judgment only hours after Athens announced it had sent the plan to Brussels. andquotWhat has been submitted is not sufficient to move the process forward,andquot said one EU official. Another said it was andquotnot sufficient and not acceptable to member statesandquot. A source then said Greece was working to revise the proposals.
Athens would talk with creditors on Tuesday with the aim of narrowing differences so Tsipras can finalize a deal at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, the source close to the talks said. Frustration is growing among Greeceand’s fellow euro zone members who have footed a large part of the 240 billion euro bill for bailing out Athens since it sank into a debt crisis in 2010. andquotWe will do everything to keep Greece in the euro zone … but our patience is running out,andquot Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said. The proposals sent to Brussels had marked a further attempt by Tsipras to compromise with EU and IMF lenders as time runs out to reach a deal to prevent his country going bankrupt. The leftist Greek leader, who will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday, agreed to further raise value-added tax rates and proposed higher budget surplus targets to bridge the gap with the creditors. The Greek stock market rose 2 percent on hopes a deal was near.
h2Urgent need for dealh2
European leaders led by Merkel have stressed the urgent need for a settlement. The bailout programme with the EU and International Monetary Fund expires at the end of this month, and Athens must make big debt repayments to the IMF by then that will probably be impossible without funds from its creditors.
Default would endanger Greeceand’s future in the euro zone, but Tsipras has to win over not only the lenders but also members of his Syriza party who are resolutely opposed to the punishing austerity terms that the EU and IMF have insisted on in return for bailout funds. Tsipras is due meet Syrizaand’s political secretariat later on Tuesday. This committee has members from the wide range of factions within the party, ranging from pro-Europeans to hardline communists. Only last week, Tsipras dismissed as absurd the creditorsand’ most recent cash-for-reform offer, but on Tuesday he offered hope that his counter-proposal would seal a deal, and warned the cost of failure would be enormous.
Signalling room for compromise, he singled out Greeceand’s budget surplus before its debt repayments, which Athens wants to keep as low as possible to free up funds to help a population that has suffered badly during five years of economic crisis. But he showed no sign of yielding to the creditorsand’ demands that Athens cut pensions. andquotI think weand’re very close to an agreement on the primary surplus for the next few years,andquot he told Italyand’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. andquotThere just needs to be a positive attitude on alternative proposals to cuts to pensions or the imposition of recessionary measures.andquot
Since Syriza won elections earlier this year, Tsipras has repeatedly denounced the futility of imposing waves of austerity on a country whose economy has already shrunk by a quarter, radically reducing living standards and sending unemployment soaring.
But Greece has received nothing from its creditors since last August and they are unwilling to release the remaining bailout funds without Athens making the reforms that they believe are essential if it is to stand on its own two feet.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman