Spain's economy minister on Wednesday again raised the prospect of Greece heading for a third bailout, as it is unlikely to regain access to capital markets before its current programme expires in June.
Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, one of the frontrunners to take over the presidency of the Eurogroup of finance ministers this year, said "unfortunately it is not very likely" that Greece will be able to return to finance markets.
"Spain is out of the recession but not the crisis," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told US newspaper The Wall Street Journal on Monday in an hour-long interview about the state of the country's economy.
"The task now is to achieve a vigorous recovery that allows us to create jobs," the Spanish leader told the influential US business paper.
"We are currently doing all that we possibly can to ensure that the second programme be successful," Merkel told a press conference in Brussels after talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
"The Troika (of Greece's creditors, the EU, ECB and IMF) is going to assess all of this and I think we've got plenty to be getting on with to make this agreement work, that's what I want to focus on." Juncker added that it was "really premature to be talking in terms of a third programme, that's speculation and I think it's best avoided." Accepting an additional life-line would amount to a major U-turn for Greece's new hard-left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who swept to power in January on the promise that Athens would end the era of bailouts and their associated austerity requirements.
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But Germany's hardline Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble poured cold water on early optimism at the start of the talks, accusing Athens of repeatedly reneging on its commitments.Saturday's meeting of the Eurogroup, comprising finance ministers from the 19-nation single currency area, was supposed to pave the way for all 28 European Union leaders to sign a final agreement at an emergency summit the following day, billed as the last chance to keep Greece in the euro.But sceptical nations demanded more commitments from Athens, with a German government document showing Berlin has drawn up plans for Greece to temporarily leave the eurozone, while Finland reportedly decided not to accept any new rescue plan for debt-laden Greece.The European Union has played down talk of any new bailout, insisting that it was still finalising details of the four-month extension of Greece's current EU-IMF programme until June, which was agreed on last week.Eurozone finance ministers, who are due to meet in Brussels next week, "are not discussing any third aid programme," Simone Boitelle, spokeswoman for Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, told AFP on Tuesday.