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Greece debt crisis: EU summit cancelled as talks continue

A summit of all European Union members planned for Sunday has been cancelled as “very difficult” talks over a third bailout deal for Greece continue.

Eurozone finance ministers adjourned the talks last night and they are now resuming.

European Council president Donald Tusk said a meeting of Eurogroup leaders would go ahead at 14:00GMT and “last until we conclude talks on Greece”.

Without a deal, it is feared Greece could crash out of the euro.

The BBC’s Jonny Dymond in Brussels says that rarely have EU meetings been cancelled at such short notice and with such a terse announcement.

Marathon talks on Saturday had ended without agreement and Eurogroup leader Jeroen Dijsselbloem described negotiations as “very difficult”.

“We have had an in-depth discussion of the Greek proposals, the issue of credibility and trust was discussed and also of course financial issues involved, but we haven’t concluded our discussions,” Mr Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of finance ministers, told reporters.

“It is still very difficult but work is in progress.”

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Talks were scheduled to resume at 09:00 GMT.

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The measures submitted in the latest Greek document include:

  • tax rise on shipping companies
  • unifying VAT rates at standard 23%, including restaurants and catering
  • phasing out solidarity grant for pensioners by 2019
  • €300m ($332m; £216m) defence spending cuts by 2016
  • privatisation of ports and sell-off of remaining shares in telecoms giant OTE
  • scrapping 30% tax break for wealthiest islands
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European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said it was “utterly unlikely” a mandate would be achieved in Sunday’s meeting to start formal negotiations on the third bailout.

Slovakian Finance Minister Peter Kazimir was similarly downbeat, saying: “It’s not possible to reach a deal today. We can agree on certain recommendations for the heads of state. That’s all. The breach of trust… it’s so big, it’s not possible to achieve the deal.”

Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said he was “still hopeful” of a deal but that on a scale of one to 10, Greece and the eurozone were “somewhere between three and four” on achieving a deal.

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German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, one of the biggest sceptics, arrives for talks

Dimitrios Papadimoulis, vice-president of the European Parliament and a member of Greece’s ruling Syriza party, reacted angrily to the eurozone’s approach in the talks so far.

“What is at play here is an attempt to humiliate Greece and Greeks, or to overthrow the [Alexis] Tsipras government,” he said.

Source: https://www.bbc.com

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