Pres­sure to catch up on re­forms

Cred­i­tors push for progress on new ac­tions amid claims that for­eign of­fi­cials are un­der­min­ing talks

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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.

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