EWG reps on Monday grill Greek side over reforms, revisions, actions necessary to conclude third review

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 12:24
SOOC/Alexandros Michailidis
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The Greek government reportedly got a “first taste” of Euro zone partners’ mood heading into negotiations for the third review of the ongoing Greek bailout program, during Monday’s Euro Working Group (EWG) in Brussels.

According to reports, Greek Alternate FinMin Giorgos Houliarakis was the recipient of complaints by other EWG participants over delays by Athens in implementing agreed to reforms and actions, the ubiquitous “prior actions” found in three successive bailout memorandums.

Reforms in Greece’s cavernous public sector, better management of the Olympus-sized “mountain of debt” entailed in non-performing loans (NPLs), recalculating recently issued monthly pensions based on the latest social security-related law in 2016 (projected to be mostly downwards) and pending privatizations were mostly cited by EWG participants that spoke on the Greek program.

In demonstrating just how attuned to Greek developments Euro zone members have become, some representatives of the Eurogroup’s preparatory body requested detailed information on the ongoing process of selling off a handful of Public Power Corp.’s lignite-fired units in northern Greece, as well as on the progress over agreed to revisions aimed at liberalizing the labor market in the country and especially the reform of 1982 law on union organizing and activity, as well as a recently tabled draft law by the labor ministry.

Another irritating “thorn” for the Tsipras government, namely, the continued prosecution of Greece’s former statistics authority head, Andreas Georgiou, on charges related to his tenure at the post between 2010 and 2015 was brought up by Euro zone representatives. Creditors have demanded an end to Georgiou’s lengthy prosecution on charges of breach of duty and perjury (among others), cases characterized by lower court or appellate-level tribunals’ acquittal or a dismissal of charges, only to be re-instated upon appeal by a relevant prosecutor.

Creditors have also pushed for a legal immunity status from frivolous litigation for executives serving in Greece’s privatization fund (HRADF), in relation to their duties and decisions in the latter.

Next up is a Tuesday meeting between EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who will be accompanied by Houliarakis.

Lastly, representatives of EU member-states’ finance ministries (EFC) gave their approval on Monday for Greece's exit from the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), a more-or-less expected development given the recording of a primary budget surplus by the bailout-supervised country over the last couple of years.

A rubber-stamping of the decision is expected within this month.  

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