A planned meeting of European Union leaders has been cancelled as crisis talks continue about Greece’s place in the single currency zone.
All 28 leaders, includingTaoiseach Enda Kenny, had been expected to attend a meeting in Brussels, but now talks will be confined to politicians from the eurozone countries.
A marathon session of talks involving finance ministers from the eurozone nations ended without agreement on Athens’ proposals, which offer austerity measures in exchange for a fresh bailout, and will resume later.
European Council president Donald Tusk confirmed he had cancelled the meeting of all 28 members but said the leaders of the eurozone nations would meet this afternoon “and last until we conclude talks on Greece”.
The announcement that the European Council summit had been cancelled came after Mr Tusk spoke to the leader of the eurozone finance ministers’ group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Some eight hours of talks yesterday failed to make a breakthrough, with eurozone nations citing a lack of trust in Greece’s radical Syriza government implementing the austerity measures promised in exchange for a third bailout.
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has offered to implement tax rises and spending cuts in return for a financial lifeline of €53.5bn to stave off bankruptcy and the possibility of crashing out of the euro.
Eurogroup president Mr Dijsselbloem said: “We had an in-depth discussion on Greek proposals. The issue of credibility and trust was discussed and also, of course, the financial issues involved.”
The Dutch finance minister added: ” It is still very difficult, but work is still in progress.”
In Finland, there were reports that the coalition government was refusing to back further assistance for Greece.
In a sign of the increasingly desperate attempts to find a solution to the crisis, reports suggested that Germany was pushing the idea of a temporary five-year long Greek exit – Grexit – from the eurozone.
Theodoros Mihopoulos, who heads Mr Tsipras’ office, said the report in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper “is completely denied”.
According to the report, the German finance ministry also proposed that the Greek government sells off some €50bn in unspecified property assets to pay off debts.
The report said that in exchange, Greece would remain in the EU and receive additional “growth enhancing, humanitarian and technical assistance”.
With Greece running out of money, and facing a July 20 demand for a €3bn payment to the European Central Bank, this weekend’s meetings in Brussels could hold the key to the country’s economic future.
Bank closures in Greece have been extended until Monday and Greeks are limited to withdrawing just €60 per day after the imposition of capital controls.
Tourists have been warned to take sufficient cash to cover expected costs and emergencies and to ensure they have supplies of their usual prescription medicines in case of shortages.