The European commission wants Greece off the political agenda before elections in the Netherlands next month: that much is clear at the end of a turbulent week of claim and counter-claim that appears to be ending in yet another messy compromise.

Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos dashed to Brussels last Friday to hear about a deal that appears to delay any punishment for Athens’s lack of reforming zeal until next year, when the Dutch, French, German and possibly Italian elections will be out of the way. To call it a sticking plaster would be to do disrespect to the healing powers of the humble Elastoplast.

Rather than demanding reforms upfront before handing over another wodge of cash, Brussels is prepared to wait and see how the leftist Syriza government handles the next stage. Only when it has failed to reduce public spending will EU officials apply another financial squeeze.

Given the two sides’ stated positions, it would seem impossible for a compromise to be reached. The Greek government has drawn a red line in front of its pension and welfare systems and said it would not make any more cuts.

The Germans, who have called the shots during the five years of rolling Greek crises, with the Dutch for allies, have long argued that pension cuts must come before cash handouts.

The International Monetary Fund, which has tagged along with the EU for all that time, has recently drawn away from the hardline EU commission. It said last week in unequivocal terms: “No more austerity for Greece.”

IMF economists estimate that the Greek economy will struggle this year, not achieving anything like the 2.7% GDP growth predicted by Brussels. In this case, they declared, without debt relief, Greece would be unable to pay the interest on its borrowing and would sink further into the mire.

Berlin has always blocked any suggestion of debt relief, arguing that would be a surefire way to undermine the Greek reform programme. But all the players in this drama are in a deep hole. And a unity of purpose appears to be emerging as they realise they need to help each other, and quickly, if they’re to have any chance of survival themselves.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, is the chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers put in charge of finding a solution. But he could be out of job soon if his Labour party suffers a second massive reversal in the coming general election.

As German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble has been calling the shots on Greece. But rumours are rife that Angela Merkel will ditch the high priest of austerity in favour of a more charming personality should she win the federal election in September.

IMF leader Christine Lagarde got her forecasts of UK growth before the Brexit vote wrong. She wasn’t alone in predicting disaster, but it proved hugely embarrassing for the Washington-based organisation and prompted EU officials to ask why they should believe its forecasts for Greece when it was so mistaken about the UK. If Lagarde refuses to buckle, such is the frustration in Brussels, the IMF could be sidelined.

Syriza and its leader Alexis Tsipras dominate the Greek parliament, but the party is riding low in the opinion polls and can’t afford a long fight with Brussels. A row could precipitate an election, and that would be courting disaster. The last time this happened the party only just survived a split and the loss of around 30 MPs. Most observers believe it would find it impossible to repeat this trick.

And so they all embrace the sticking plaster. As before, it will keep the show on the road for a little while longer. But the problems won’t go away.

More than €170bn has made its way from Brussels to Athens in the past five years – a vast sum that will never be paid back. Most of the next handout will go to pay the interest on the first.

When only crumbs are left for investment, the prognosis must be dire.

Boards must get tough on executive pay too

On the morning of an annual general meeting, a company knows it is in for a rough ride when a shareholder issues a statement to proclaim it has voted against the pay deals on offer to the chief executive.

This is what happened to Thomas Cook on Thursday, when Standard Life Investments, which owns a 13% stake in the holiday company, made clear its frustrations with the proposed pay rise for boss Peter Fankhauser.

The Edinburgh-based fund manager not only voted against a number of the resolutions on pay but also against the re-election to the board of the non-executive directors who sit on the remuneration committee. There was enough of a revolt for Thomas Cook to respond by reducing the bonus potential for Fankhauser from 225% of his base salary of £703,000 to 200%.

It is the second row over pay so far this year – not bad going given that the AGM season does not get going properly until late next month.

Last month Imperial Brands – maker of Gauloises and John Player cigarettes – had to abandon plans to increase the maximum payout to chief executive Alison Cooper to £8.5m from £5.5m. Such was the tension over that attempt to increase pay that the company did not even put it to a shareholder vote.

This is precisely the kind of pressure that shareholders should be exerting on companies to keep a lid on boardroom rewards – according to the High Pay Centre, chief executives received an average of £5.5m in 2015.

Hopes are high that they are taking their role in policing Britain’s boardrooms seriously. They are saying the right things: the world’s biggest fund manager, BlackRock, has put companies on notice that it is alert for excessive executive pay, as has comparative minnow the Church of England.

But they cannot clamp down on excess on their own. Companies need to exercise restraint. The members of remuneration committees really need to ask themselves if their chief executive would walk away without a pay rise. The betting is they would not.

Pivotal point for Twitter

When the world’s most powerful man tweets on a regular basis, you might expect commercial success to follow.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey insisted that Donald Trump’s 140-character pearls of wisdom had “boosted the power” of the social media site. Yet the company lost $457m (£367m) last year, taking its cumulative losses since flotation to $2.8bn and putting a question mark over its promise to turn a profit in 2017.

Advertising revenue has lagged well behind Twitter’s popularity, and fell year-on-year in the fourth quarter. Advertisers still appear uncertain about the bang for their buck, which puts Twitter’s financial model on shaky ground.

Dorsey’s rescue plan is to focus on live video, drop less lucrative initiatives and use artificial intelligence to better analyse users’ behaviour. That makes 2017 a pivotal year for Twitter, and yet more major losses will probably send more investors scurrying for the hills above Silicon Valley.

That, as President Trump might tweet, would be “sad”.