EU authorities made a last-minute offer to salvage a bailout deal that could keep Greece in the euro as the clock ticked down on Tuesday, with Germany warning that time had run out to extend vital credit lines to Athens.
With billions of euros in locked-up bailout funds due to expire at midnight, the European Commission urged Greece to accept the proposed deal, while holding out hopes that some tweaks could still be possible.
If no agreement is reached, Greece will default on a loan to the IMF, setting it on a path out of the euro with unforeseeable consequences for the European Union’s grand currency project and the global economy.
Greek officials, who insist that a referendum on the bailout package on Sunday is part of the negotiating process, said they wanted a deal though there was no firm offer or move towards accepting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposals.
“We want a viable solution. If we get a credible proposal that leaves even a sniff of a viable solution, we’ll be the first to take it,” a senior finance official told reporters.
However prospects of a breakthrough were dampened by a cool response from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“This evening at exactly midnight central European time the programme expires. And I am not aware of any real indications of anything else,” Merkel said at a news conference with Kosovo’s prime minister.
“All I know is that the last offer from the Commission that I’m aware of is from Friday of last week.”