In another sign of their impatience, European leaders have taken just one day to dismiss Greece's latest reform plan. Greek, German and French leaders are expected to meet on Wednesday in hopes of making progress.
The rejection of another round of Greek reform suggestions came on the sidelines of a joint European Union-Latin America summit held in Brussels, barely a day after they were submitted. The European Commission said the pitch, including amendments made this week, fell short of what was needed.
"For this final push the Commission is of the view that the ball is clearly now in the court of the Greek government," said Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' leftist government was elected in January on the back of promises to end harsh austerity measures. Although he has conceded some ground in Brussels, Tsipras refuses to cross certain "red lines."
Greece has been locked in a battle with creditors from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for months, trying to agree on a program of reforms that would then allow the nation to access 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in outstanding emergency loan payments.
With repayments worth 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion)due this month alone
, fears are increasing of Greece defaulting, and being forced out of the Eurozone altogether, unless a deal is reached. The country has already had two previous extensions to its bailout agreements.
Behind closed doors
Prime Minister Tsipras is expected tomeet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and French President Francois Hollande, in a last-ditch effort to come to a compromise.
No officials from either country would confirm the meeting, though Greek authorities said it would take place. Merkel said "if the Greek prime minister wants to talk with us, we will of course do that."
"The goal is to keep Greece in the eurozone. I always approach these things with the attitude, if there is a will there is a way," Merkel told reporters on arrival in Brussels.
Hollande meanwhile called for negotiations to speed up.
"We will only have one message: we must move now quickly, we must not relent, we must not allow solutions that would be bad for Greece, for the European Union and for the eurozone," he said.
Last Friday, Athens described suggestions made by creditors as irrational, arguing they would unfairly impact upon the Greek people.
Tense timesTsipras delivered a 47-page reform outline
to the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, last week, which was updated and forwarded to the EU's economic affairs commissioner, Pierre Moscovici.
Schinas said on Tuesday that Moscovici had told Greece "their latest suggestions do not reflect the state of discussions between President Juncker and Prime Minister Tsipras Wednesday night, and those between Commissioner Moscovici and the Greek ministers Monday afternoon."
But he said there was still hope progress could be made, with the Commission's Vice President Vladis Dombrovskis suggesting some measures could be swapped for others that were more suitable.
Following comments by Juncker on Tuesday, it seems unlikely he will be joining discussions, with news agency Agence France Presse reporting an EU source quoting Juncker as saying meeting with Tsipras would be a "waste of time." This came after Tsipras publicly dimissed Juncker's "absurd proposal" after their own talks in Brussels last week.
Any agreement would still need to be approved by the eurozone's finance ministers, due to meet in Luxembourg next week.
an/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)