BLUFF AND BLUSTER

So much hot air—A year of Greek summitry, charted

There is a tantalizing rumor making the rounds in Brussels. It’s that if euro-zone finance ministers—the “Eurogroup”—sign off on Greece’s make-or-break pledge on reforms on Saturday (July 11), and grant a new bailout, then the emergency EU leaders’ summit called for Sunday will be cancelled. If that happens, it will be one of the few times that European officials subtract, rather than add, a meeting to the calendar to blather on about Greece.

Including tomorrow’s crunch talks, the finance ministers will have met nine times in the past month alone. Heads of state have been summoned less regularly, but they too are probably sick of the sight of each other after a spate of supposedly last-ditch summits to sort out the Greek crisis once and for all.

The_year_in_Greece_summitry_Greece_2-year_Eurogroup_meetings_EU-euro_summits_chartbuilder

Indeed, “we hope that we have don’t have to meet on Sunday,” Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi said recently. “This means that a deal on Greece could be reached already on Saturday by finance ministers.”

The comprehensive rejection of creditors’ demands by Greek voters in a referendum last week looked set to derail the negotiations, until a sudden outbreak of compromise put a new deal in sight. As the country’s cash-strapped banks teeter on the brink of collapse, the rising probability of Grexit—Greece exiting the euro zone—has focused minds, bringing Athens and its creditors closer than ever to a deal.

Or maybe the strain on ministerial travel budgets has grown so intense that officials simply can’t keep it up any longer.

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