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European stocks fell Monday, easing from multiyear highs, with Greek shares in the deep red as European officials continued to tackle issues surrounding the country’s debt crisis.

The Stoxx Europe 600 ended 0.3% lower at 393.19, with losses in nearly all major sectors, including a more than 1% decline for the telecom group .

Discussions about Greece’s financial troubles took center-stage in the markets as finance ministers in the eurozone, known as the Eurogroup, gathered in Brussels to discuss Greece during its regular monthly meeting.

Eurogroup’s chairman, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, ahead of the meeting said progress by Athens on reforms related to the four-month extension Greece’s bailout program has been slow, a sentiment echoed by other European officials (

The Eurogroup on Monday concluded that Greece, which faces a cash crunch later this month, needs to speed up its work on reforms.

Over the weekend, Greece Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told an Italian newspaper that Greece may hold a referendum ( on whether to accept its creditors’ financial-aid terms if the government decides they are unacceptable.

The Stoxx 600 on Friday ( finished 0.1% higher, holding its best level since mid-2007, and marked its fifth consecutive weekly advance ahead of Monday’s start of the European Central Bank’s massive asset-purchase program. Read: 7 things to know about the ECB’s QE game plan (

The euro on Monday ( was trading at $1.0855 (EURUSD), up from around $1.0839 late Friday.

“Judging by the performance of markets, the ECB’s commitment to buy euro-area assets in enormous quantities has obviously won out, with the ongoing issues in Greece simply being seen as a nuisance in the background,” Dermot O’Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers, wrote Monday.

Nevertheless, the “bottom line here is that the risk of an accident in Greece remains a very real one,” said O’Leary. “It is clear that a third bailout will also have to be thrashed out over the coming months.”

Indexes: As ECB purchases kicked off, yields on Italian, Spanish and Portuguese government debt fell to near-record lows ( on Monday. Yields and prices move in opposite direction.

Greece’s Athex Composite fell 4.2% to 814.70. Greek banking stocks were hit, with Piraeus Bank SA dropping 12%, Eurobank Ergasias SA losing 11%, and National Bank of Greece SA down 6.3%. The yield on 10-year Greek government bonds jumped 61 basis points to 9.94%, according to electronic trading platform Tradeweb.

Germany’s DAX 30 turned up 0.3% to 11,582.11. Earlier Monday, German data showed the trade surplus in Europe’s largest economy narrowed slightly in January ( in adjusted terms, as exports fell and imports slipped.