Greece fails to reach initial deal on reforms with lenders

Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:51am EDT
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By Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece failed to reach an initial deal with the European Union and the IMF to unlock aid after the creditors dismissed a package of reforms from Athens as ideas rather than a concrete plan, officials said on Tuesday.

The lack of a deal further raises pressure on Athens, which faces the prospect of running out of money in a few weeks unless it can convince lenders to dole out more financial help.

Athens put a brave face on the failure to reach an agreement with the "Brussels Group" of representatives from the EU and the IMF, saying it remained keen for a deal on the basis of its long-held demand that the measures it is asked to implement do not hurt economic growth. Lenders will intensify efforts to collect data in Athens, it said.

One source close to the talks said the halt in negotiations was not a sign of a rupture but an indication of slow-moving progress in the discussions.

Mistrust and acrimony have characterised much of Greece's talks with lenders since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stormed to power in January pledging to end austerity and a bailout programme that has kept Greece afloat for over four years.

Greece and its European partners have sought to show publicly that relations have improved in recent weeks after Tsipras held a series of talks with EU leaders, but both sides remain far apart on issues ranging from pension reform to debt relief.

At issue now is a list of reforms that Greece presented to the Brussels Group representatives last week, in an effort to show lenders that it is committed to living up to pledges of financial discipline and is worthy of aid.

But euro zone officials panned the list as inadequate. One EU official said the lenders had yet to receive the list they had been waiting for.   Continued...

Pigeons fly over a fluttering Greek national flag in Athens March 30, 2015.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis