While Greece is still locked in stalled talks with international lenders as the country goes broke, Germany’s European Commissioner thinks a deal could happen this week.
Guenter Oettinger, whose country has put up much of the 240 billion euros ($262.11 billion) loaned Greece since 2010, said there’s room for optimism despite reports from the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) negotiations are lagging.
The troika wants Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to impose austerity measures he campaigned against and is holding back a 7.2-billion euro ($7.86 billion) installment until he does.
“We will need progress at the working group level, in order that we can agree on a reform agenda, perhaps even by the end of the week, which would trigger the payment of the last tranche of aid from the current aid program,» Oettinger told Die Welt newspaper in an interview.
Oettinger, however, downplayed expectations of any breakthrough at a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker in Berlin on June 1.
“Greece’s challenges are too big to be solved ‘en passant’,” he said. He added that there has been some limited progress on Value Added Tax (VAT) reforms but that the two sides were still arguing over pension cuts and withholding worker rights.