EU’s Moscovici says Greek bailout review progressing well

27 Nov, 2016 11:16 am

ATHENS- Greece has made headway in its bailout review and can discuss short-term debt relief measures with its official lenders next month, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in an interview with a Greek newspaper.

Greece’s official creditors – the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the ECB and the IMF – are assessing its delivery on reforms and fiscal targets set in a bailout programme of up to 86 billion euros (73 billion pounds) agreed last summer, its third since 2010.

Greece hopes to swiftly conclude the review and secure short-term debt relief so that its bonds are included in the ECB’s bond buying scheme and it can regain market access before 2018, when its current bailout expires.

The Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers is scheduled to meet on Dec. 5 to take stock of the progress made and set a timeline for the completion of the review.

“I think it is absolutely feasible that a staff-level agreement concludes in the coming days, based on which Greek authorities will then have to implement the agreed reforms and soon make the necessary steps to wrap up the second review,” Moscovici told Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper.

“Based on the conclusions from the first review and the good progress in the second one, I think conditions are appropriate for (debt relief) discussions which must take place at the next Eurogroup,” he added.

Greek government officials said this week that there were still differences between Athens and its lenders on fiscal targets and labour and energy reforms.

Greek finance ministry officials said on Saturday that the two sides are expected to agree on remaining issues next week.

Greece’s bailout targets include a primary budget surplus of 3.5 percent of its output in 2018 and beyond.

The IMF says the goals are unrealistic and Athens wants them to be lowered. But Moscovici said the targets were confirmed by euro zone finance ministers in May, who underlined the importance of a strong fiscal path.

Moscovici will be in Athens next week and is due to meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and several ministers, including Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos. -Reuters

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