The abrupt ending to the Eurogroup meeting this evening in Brussels points to the fundamental differences between the two sides of the negotiations. The Eurogroup, for their part, will not renegotiate the program without an extension of the current program in place. Greece will not agree to an extension of the current program.
Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, speaking after the meeting, said that there is not enough time to renegotiate the program. Instead Greece must agree to an extension to the current bailout first, which would then allow time to explore flexibility in the Greek program. Greece rejected this insistence on an extension of the bailout as “absurd” and “unacceptable.” That is where we stand this evening.
The Eurogroup will reconvene when Greece is ready to ask for an extension of the current program. There may be a temptation in Greek to wait out the Eurogroup, but this would be a risky strategy. The longer Greece waits, the worse things will get in its domestic economy. The already stressed banking sector already is reliant on Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) approved by the European Central Bank, which that bank has already had to increase by €5.4 billion ($6.13 billion) since it was introduced.