Fragile Greek economy dips back into recession

Greek officials, scrambling to reach a bailout deal with international creditors, confirmed new fears of an economic slowdown, with an official announcement Wednesday that the economy had slipped back into recession.

Authorities say the Greek economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2015, following modest growth through most of the previous year that pulled the country from a six-year depression.

European creditors are negotiating with Athens on terms of a final $8 billion bailout instalment. Talks are deadlocked ahead of a June 30 final deadline over demands from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for Athens to implement more economic reforms and budget cuts.

After four months of negotiations, the two sides remain far apart on pension cuts, privatisations and retirement age proposals.

Greece lost a full quarter of its economic output in the six years of recession that began at the height of the 2007-2008 global downturn.

Greek voters in January elected the left-wing Syriza party, largely on its promises to end deep spending cuts demanded by EU powerhouse Germany in exchange for European bailout funds.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras – facing international demands for austerity and fierce domestic pressure to improve economic conditions at home – has since sought to negotiate compromises with creditors aimed at preventing a repayment default.