Greece's government will resume stalled talks with EU/IMF lenders in Paris on Tuesday, as Athens pushes to conclude a crucial review by inspectors so it can make an early exit to an unpopular bailout program.
Athens had set a Dec. 8 deadline to complete the review. But talks floundered over a projected budget gap for next year and EU/IMF inspectors did not return as expected to Athens this month, leading to concerns that a delayed review would derail Greece's plan to quit its bailout by the end of the year.
The two sides will meet in Paris “to advance the review and examine the framework for the day after”, the bailout ends, the Greek Finance Ministry said in a statement. A ministry official declined to say if the talks would continue beyond Tuesday, but said the bailout would not be extended past the end of the year.
Greece's government has staked its own survival on abandoning the 240-billion-euro bailout program, which has entailed unpopular austerity measures, ahead of schedule. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras needs to push through his candidate in a presidential vote in February to avoid being forced to call early elections and is hoping exiting the bailout will help win him enough support to survive the vote.
But the final bailout review, like most reviews before it, has struggled amid rows over reforms and austerity cuts.
Athens and its foreign lenders have been at loggerheads over the projected deficit for next year, with the lenders arguing Greece will miss the target of 0.2 percent of gross domestic product because of a new payback plan for austerity-hit Greeks who owe money to the state.
The Greek government, however, has so far resisted changes demanded by the inspectors, going so far as to submit its 2015 budget to parliament last week without the approval of lenders.