Europe's finance ministers very nearly agreed to this provisional deal on Greece

Varoufakis SchaeubleREUTERS/Yves HermanGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (R) shakes hands with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaueble (L) in Brussels February 11, 2015.

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis had his first Eurogroup meeting yesterday, with the focus entirely on his own country. Nothing official has emerged, but according to one report, a statement was within minutes of being agreed before it was torpedoed by Athens.

This, from the Financial Times’ Peter Spiegel, is reportedly the statement that the finance ministers almost signed off on:

The Greek authorities have expressed their commitment to a broader and stronger reform process aimed at durably improving growth prospects. At the same time, the Greek authorities reiterated their unequivocal commitment to the financial obligations to all their creditors.

On this basis, we will now start technical work on the further assessment of Greece’s reform plans. The Greek authorities have agreed to work closely and constructively with the institutions to explore the possibilities for extending and successfully concluding the present programme taking into account the new government’s plans.

If this is successful this will bridge the time for the Greek authorities and the Eurogroup to work on possible new contractual arrangements. We will continue our discussions at our next meeting on Monday 16 February.

According to Spiegel, Varoufakis had actually agreed to the deal before it was vetoed by Athens.

For Greece’s government, “present programme” at the end of the third paragraph is likely to be the bit they objected to. Athens does not want to explore the possibility of extending their current bailout agreement. PM Alexis Tsipras and Varoufakis have repeatedly said that the bailout agreement is over.

The fact that the word “bridge” is in the last paragraph is likely a concession to Varoufakis (who has been pushing for a bridge loan to tide Greece over through the summer), but it appears it’s just not good enough to sign up to. He’s said that Greece is now in a “post-bailout era“.

Varoufakis also wasn’t very pleased at Spiegel’s reporting:

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