Greece is on the brink of exiting the European Union as concerns grow Germany and Greece face a dramatic eurozone showdown which could see Athens abandon the single currency to ease crippling austerity. Euro finance ministers will hold crisis talks as a deadline for Greece to request an extension to its €240 billion (£176bn) bailout program looms. The last tranche of rescue money destined for Athens will be withheld unless the Greeks agree to more spending cuts and tax hikes. Surrendering the lifeline would leave Greece unable to pay its debts – paving the way for a “Grexit”. Germany has rejected Greek requests for a fresh six-month assistance package that would have reduced Berlin-backed austerity. The decision means Athens is likely to run out of money by the end of the month if a deal is not reached.  The fall-out from a Greek exit would unleash a disastrous ripple effect, eventually hitting Britain and impacting on the UK economy. Its last-ditch plea for a new settlement came less than four weeks after the left-wing Syriza coalition swept to power promising to end austerity. But Berlin said it was “not a substantial proposal for a solution” – opening a rift with the European Commission which had branded the request “positive” only moments earlier. Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis had written to the “Eurogroup” promising to use the six months “to attain fiscal and financial stability”. He said a deal would “enable the Greek government to introduce the substantive, far-reaching reforms that are needed to restore the living standards of millions of Greek citizens through sustainable economic growth, gainful employment and social cohesion”. MIRROR