Greece has been given until Friday to request an extension to its bailout programme or face the consequences.
The ultimatum came after Monday’s talks with eurozone finance ministers collapsed.
Athens would rather have a temporary loan to allow for further talks on changes to Greece’s future funding.
After publishing an official statement from the Eurogroup, its Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem explained his position:
“Within that programme a lot of changes are possible, there is flexibility but the main features of the programme, keeping the budget on track, reforming the economy have to be maintained. But the first step will be an extension and the next step is to talk about the content of the programme, but not the other way around.”
Greece’s new leftist government has vowed to scrap its 240 billion euro bailout, and reverse unpopular austerity policies, but Eurogroup ministers seem to be having none of it.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis appeared disappointed at Monday’s outcome:
We were offering to refrain effectively from implementing our own programme, the programme we were elected to implement, for a period of six months. And all we were getting back was a nebulous promise of some flexibility that was never specified.”
Greece has proposed a new bailout programme that involves a bridging loan to keep the country going for six months and help it repay 7 billion euros of maturing bonds.
The second part of the plan would see the country’s debt refinanced.
Monday’s impasse has raised doubts over Greece’s future in the single currency area.
Euronews’s reporter in Brussels Efi Koutsokosta pointed out said that those who are insisting on implementing the programme are wasting their time after the response of Athens to the Eurogroup’s proposals.“But time is running out with the current bailout programme due to expire on February 28 and with it the country’s financing.”
If that happens it remains unclear how long Greece can keep itself afloat without foreign support.