Hopes for a breakthrough in bailout negotiations for cash-strapped Greece have been dashed again and another deadline has been set.
Athens once again failed to get approval from its European creditors to receive the next batch of bailout loans needed to meet a debt repayment this summer.
It also failed to secure an agreement on the sort of debt relief measures it can expect to get when its current bailout programme ends next year.
Without the loans, Greece faces another brush with bankruptcy. The Greek government had hoped that Monday night’s meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers would at least have seen it cleared to get the money after it legislated for further cuts and reforms last week to meet creditor demands.
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said: “It would be preferable to postpone a decision for a few days, which would give us time to work harder and prepare a better solution, than to take decisions that just move the problem on and do not offer a clear way out.”
The eurozone’s leading official Jeroen Dijsselbloem said a broad settlement involving the next payout and the outlines of a debt relief deal is close, and could be reached in three weeks when finance ministers from the 19 countries from the single currency bloc meet in Luxembourg on June 15.
While hailing recent progress the Greek authorities have made to implement the reforms and cuts demanded from creditors, Mr Dijsselbloem said certain issues still needed to be addressed.
Time is running out for Greece as without the rescue loans it would struggle to meet a repayment in July of 7 billion euros (£6 billion).
The European Commission, one of the overseers of the bailout, sought to downplay fears that Greece was heading for another financial crisis.
“We are convinced that Greece has delivered,” said Margaritis Schinas, the commission’s spokesman. “Now it is up to its partners to do the same.”