Tac­tics be­fore Eurogroup

Athens, lenders press agen­das ahead of Mon­day meet as bailout re­view drags on

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Euro­pean Eco­nomic and Mon­e­tary Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Pierre Moscovici and other Euro­pean of­fi­cials yes­ter­day ex­pressed op­ti­mism about the out­look for the timely com­ple­tion of Greece’s bailout re­view and the prospects for debt re­lief but all sides are press­ing their agen­das ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on Mon­day.

An agree­ment is pos­si­ble by the end of the year, Moscovici told re­porters at the end of a two-day visit to Athens. It is “doable, fea­si­ble,” he said, adding that “the pre­con­di­tion is to have pre-agree­ment this week­end in­volv­ing all part­ners.”

Eurogroup chair­man Jeroen Di- js­sel­bloem con­firmed that debt mea­sures would be dis­cussed on Mon­day in the hope of per­suad­ing the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund to sign on to the bailout. “I think the IMF is com­mit­ted be­cause they had al­ready agreed in May to go to the board be­fore the end of the year,” Di­js­sel­bloem told MEPs in Brus­sels. In what ap­peared to be a ges­ture to­ward the IMF, Di­js­sel­bloem ad­mit­ted that EU of­fi­cials might be de­mand­ing too much aus­ter­ity from Greece. “The IMF has a point that run­ning a pri­mary sur­plus of 3.5 per­cent of GDP for a very long time is a huge thing to ask and we need to be re­al­is­tic here,” he said, re­fer­ring to the EU’s 2018 tar­get for Greece.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, Greek of­fi­cials are con­cerned that a po­ten­tial com­pro­mise be­tween cred­i­tors could re­sult in more than 3 bil­lion euros’ worth of new aus­ter­ity for Greece.

The Fund has set three con­di­tions for it to join Greece’s third bailout pro­gram: One is the im­ple­men­ta­tion of all re­forms by Greece, the sec­ond is that pri­mary sur­plus tar­gets be re­duced and the third is for debt re­lief mea­sures to be agreed. Mean­while cer­tain Euro­pean coun­tries, notably Ger­many, are re­luc­tant to of­fer con­ces­sions on debt.

In com­ments yes­ter­day, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos de­scribed the De­cem­ber 5 Eurogroup as a “mile­stone” but noted that an ex­tra­or­di­nary Eurogroup would likely be held be­fore year-end.

Tsakalo­tos on Mon­day echoed Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras in sug­gest­ing that non-com­ple­tion of the bailout re­view could trig­ger po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity. But gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los yes­ter­day sought to douse spec­u­la­tion about early elec­tions, say­ing there are no such plans and that snap polls dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with cred­i­tors would be “dan­ger­ous for the econ­omy and the coun­try.”

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