Moscovici visit marks in­for­mal start to next talks

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The ar­rival in Athens on Mon­day of Pierre Moscovici, the Euro­pean com­mis­sioner for eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial af­fairs, is be­ing viewed by the gov­ern­ment as the in­for­mal start of ne­go­ti­a­tions for the sec­ond re­view of the coun­try’s third bailout – even though talks will for all in­tents and pur­poses fo­cus on the after­math of Bri­tain’s de­ci­sion to leave the EU, the trou­bles of the Ital­ian bank­ing sec­tor and other mat­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the gov­ern­ment is seek­ing to probe the com­mis­sioner about the in­ten­tions of the coun­try’s lenders con­cern­ing their pri­or­i­ties and de­mands – more specif­i­cally, with re­gard to la­bor re­form, given the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund’s tough stance on the is­sue. And since la­bor re­form is set to dom­i­nate ne­go­ti­a­tions, Greece has asked for the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Com­mit­tee on Em­ploy­ment and So­cial Af­fairs. Athens is ex­pected to dis­cuss the na­ture of the in­volve­ment of both or­ga­ni­za­tions with Moscovici, as Athens be­lieves the ILO and EMPL could help it in its bid to rein­tro­duce col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and to ease the pres­sure for tough la­bor cuts.

Sources say the un­der­ly­ing goal is to get Greece’s cred­i­tors on board to face off with the IMF, which said in a re­port last week it wants Greece to pass leg­is­la­tion that would make it eas­ier for em­ploy­ers to fire work­ers, lower min­i­mum wages and open up closed pro­fes­sions. The IMF has yet to con­firm its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bailout as it is de­mand­ing re­as­sur­ances that mea­sures will be taken to make Greece’s debt sus­tain­able. How­ever, the gov­ern­ment is well aware that af­ter the tough la­bor re­forms passed in France re­cently it will be very dif­fi­cult for it to get any lee­way.

How­ever, Athens is keen to set the frame­work and the pro­ce­dure un­der which the re­view ne­go­ti­a­tions will take place in or­der to se­cure its timely con­clu­sion.

The lenders want the re­view con­cluded by mid-Oc­to­ber, and with so many is­sues over­whelm­ing Brus­sels, the last thing it wants is to get bogged down in long ne­go­ti­a­tions, as was the case with the first re­view.

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