Euro Area Tells Greece to Speed Up Work on Aid Payout Conditions

Dijsselbloem: The Greek Economy Is Starting to Grow
  • Nation needs to complete further reforms to qualify for loans
  • Steps required before euro area will discuss debt relief

Euro-area finance ministers sounded a familiar alarm bell about lagging Greek economic reforms, saying the nation still has much to do to qualify for its next aid payout.

The economy chiefs, meeting in Bratislava, expressed frustration that Greece hasn’t made sufficient progress in realizing its latest set of creditor-imposed conditions, warning they are in no mood to return to the chaotic aid negotiations that have characterized their relations since 2010.

“In an ideal world, we would have liked to have seen more progress at this stage,” European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters, adding that Greece has met only two of 15 conditions that would qualify it for another 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) and trigger the start of talks on debt relief. “It’s no secret to say there’s still work to be done.”

Slipping timetables have been a regular feature of loan payouts to Greece since it first turned to the euro area and the International Monetary Fund for a rescue in May 2010. The country is now in its third bailout, bringing total pledges to 326 billion euros.

While work to enact the remaining requirements -- such as asset sales and bank governance -- for the latest payout is under way and the Greek government has time to qualify for the disbursement before it expires at the end of October, any persistent delays risk clouding the outlook for the next international review of Greece’s bailout progress and the prospects for debt relief being dangled by the creditors.

“There’s no doubt we’ve lost time,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who led the meeting of his euro-area counterparts.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos used Friday’s meeting to urge his counterparts to decide this year on short-term debt relief for Greece and on the specific options for medium-term relief to be discussed, according to a Greek official, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

“Greece seems to be a permanent issue for us,” Malta’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said in an interview after the meeting. “It’s become a situation where many are saying ‘let’s not put more things on our desk than we can handle.”’

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