By N. Bellos
A decision allowing creditors' top negotiators to return to Greece for talks to conclude the second review of the Greek program could be taken at Monday's Eurogroup meeting, but only if the distance separating the Greek government and the former are narrowed, according to a top Eurozone official in Brussels on Thursday.
The same official estimated that once creditors' representatives return, negotiations will proceed rapidly. Nevertheless the source clarified that no extraordinary Eurogroup meeting will be held to ratify the agreement, given that the Greek state's lending needs for the next couple of months are not pressing.
As such, the next "unofficial deadline" for reaching an agreement which will subsequently receive the "political stamp of approval" by the Eurozone's finance ministers is the March 20 Eurogroup meeting, or even a subsequent one on April 7.
In a particularly figurative phrase, the official said the still delayed review "is not like red wine, where over time it gets better."
Fiscal questions and labor sector liberalization are reportedly at the center of discussions at the moment - albeit via distance contacts. The official confirmed that differences exist over the need for "precautionary" austerity measures to meet primary budget surplus targets after 2018, while saying the IMF could revise its forecasts before the completion of the review, at least on the staff level.
The Greek government has repeatedly said it will no enact "even a euro more" in austerity measures.