By N. Bellos
A Eurogroup meeting in Bratislava on Friday touched on the Greek program, as expected, with Eurozone finance ministers reiterating the need for Athens to implement the remaining 13 out of 15 “prior actions” necessary to collect a 2.8-billion-euro sub-tranche in bailout money in October.
Nevertheless, according to reports, most of the “fresh news” from the meeting came from EU Commission Pierre Moscovici, who said “significant decisions” for the future of Greece will come in the autumn. He was directly referring to a conclusion of the second review of the Greek program (third bailout), followed by whatever measures are taken for debt relief.
As it stands, Athens wants at least temporary measures for lessening its debt load to institutional creditors, something that the now embattled Tsipras government can hold up to public opinion as tangible evidence of reversing austerity in the country. The IMF has also vociferously pressed for debt relief in order to ensure that the Greek debt is “sustainable”, a necessary condition, as it says, for remaining in the program.
Conversely, European creditors, and especially Berlin, are weary of loosening up conditions prior to the end of the current bailout program in 2018.
Moscovici also said that implementing the prior actions is imperative ahead of the second review, while he reportedly singled out the creation of an autonomous privatization fund, liberalization of the energy sector and ensuring the independence of the general secretariat for public revenues as the priorities.
On his part, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem was asked about the ongoing prosecution of the former head of Greece’s statistical service between 2010 and 2015, whereby he called the affair “unfortunate”, while adding, however, that it was now a matter left up to the Greek justice system.
He also repeated that the EU’s statistical service, Eurostat, stands by the credibility of figures supplied by the affiliated Greek service for the specific period. Finally, he said a subsequent statement by the relevant Greek alternate finance minister in Parliament, who also expressed confidence in EL.STAT’s figures, was a positive development.