Euro zone members have given Greece until the end of the week to come up with a proposal for sweeping reforms in return for loans to keep the country in the euro and avoid economic ruin. David Pollard reports
Europe's lost count of the 'last chances'. This time there's a feeling this really could be it. 'Euro or drachma on Sunday' reads one headline in Athens. This one: 'Greek SOS'. But if the ship's sinking, there's no sign of panic from its captain. Prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, in Strasbourg to address the European Parliament. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "We ask for an agreement with our neighbours but one which gives us a sign that we are on a long-lasting basis exiting from the crisis, which will demonstrate that there's light at the end of the tunnel." Greece sent its new finance minister to negotiate in Brussels on Tuesday. The only problem: he had no new proposals, according to his peers. Athens now told in clear terms it has until Friday at the latest to come up with clear reforms. That or get no bailout funds - an option that could push it down the road to bankruptcy and exit from the euro zone. All 28 EU leaders are to meet on Sunday to decide Greece's fate. The pressure for a deal almost unbearable. And European Council President Donald Tusk finally cracking on a long-held mantra. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN COUNCIL, DONALD TUSK, SAYING: "Until now I have avoided talking about deadlines, but tonight I have to say it loud and clear that the final deadline ends this week." European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, took to the same podium - he says he has detailed plans to cope with a Greek exodus from the single currency. Many in the markets no longer see such talk as bluff, but a very real possibility. Chris Beauchamp of IG. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) IG, MARKET ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "It appears that Grexit has now been discussed and planned for within the highest levels of the euro zone and indeed the German and French chancelleries. So I think they are now ready to see Greece depart and have begun to make the necessary changes." But even as the endgame nears, talk still does persist of a possible 'euro fudge'. ING's Carsten Brzeski. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) CARSTEN BRZESKI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ING GERMANY, SAYING: ''It would probably involve some kind of debt relief - but at the end of a long ride, not up front. It would also include more reforms. But this fudge would of course mean that we could have the same crisis situation in a couple of months again.'' And indeed the EU is said to be considering some kind of interim emergency assistance for Greece. Even now, as both sides prepare to play their last hands, the EU still, possibly, hedging its bets.