Pressure to catch up on reforms
Creditors push for progress on new actions amid claims that foreign officials are undermining talks
Representatives of Greece’s creditors have increased the pressure on Greek authorities to push through a new slew of reforms over the coming weeks to qualify for the next tranche of 2.8 billion euros in rescue funding as progress is already behind schedule.
Meanwhile, in a 10-page letter to the mission chiefs for Greece, published in the newspaper Ependisi on Saturday, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has accused members of the creditors’ technical teams in Athens of undermining negotiations on reforms. According to the letter, technical staff have called for the reversal of certain new laws and have made “absurd” demands.
Creditors are pushing for progress on a series of milestones by early August. A representative of Greece’s creditors told Kathimerini that “there will be no excuse” if progress is not achieved over the summer. Foreign auditors are worried that the impact of a decision by Britons to leave the European Union, a so-called Brexit, will undermine momentum in the Greek program.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who visited Athens last week, told Ta Nea daily that “there is no question of Grexit,” referring to a Greek exit from the eurozone.
The milestones Greece must tick off in the coming weeks include the approval of the privatization of power grid operator ADMIE and the appointment of staff to a supervisory board for a new privatization fund. According to the original plan, these actions should have been taken by the end of June.
The most politically contentious of the actions Greece must take are changes to labor laws, introducing greater flexibility for employers to fire staff.
A government official said not only Athens is to blame for the slow progress. “There is a problem with micro-management but that does not only relate to us, it relates to the institutions too,” the official said.” “For things to move faster, the assessment of our proposals and draft laws must be swifter from their side.”
According to sources, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi briefly discussed a possible alliance of southern European countries during a summit of EU leaders last week. The matter is to be further explored this week at a meeting expected to be attended by French President Francois Hollande.