Eurogroup chief is "positive" on breakthrough in Greek talks

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 19, 2017

"So I will report to the ministers first and then give you the details of the results we have achieved", he said.

A delegation of Greek ministers is now in Brussels for talks with representatives of the global creditors in an attempt to bridge differences over the fresh round of labor reforms, pensions and tax cuts demanded by Greece's creditors.

"We continue to believe that a staff level agreement in the coming weeks is not only possible but also necessary to limit risks linked to a delay", Pierre Moscovici said in an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The longer the target will be set - between three and five years, according to sources - the more Greece will have to maintain austerity measures.

Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for economic affairs, said the agreement had been reached after "several months of hard negotiations", with a breakthrough made this week.

He said, that the Eurogroup had at the time agreed to change the strategy and the order of things whilst talks intensified to reach an agreement between the institutions and Athens over big reforms. Another way to put it is that they haven't said, as far as I can see at least, that they're out.

Progress appears to have been made.

Without the loan, Greece would struggle to make a debt payment in July, raising anew the prospect of default.

With the European Union already reeling from Brexit, Tsipras argued that Greece's current rescue programme - its third since 2010 - would collapse if his government were to fall.

An agreement among eurozone ministers would go a long way towards getting the International Monetary Fund on board as a financial partner in the bailout, a major demand of Germany, Greece's biggest lender.

The bailout talks have been delayed for months, freezing loan installment payouts and hurting chances of a Greek recovery after years of recession and flat growth.

European governments, especially Germany, have resisted providing more debt relief and dispute the fund's analysis, instead calling for more economic policy steps including pension reforms, tax increases and further privatisations of state-owned enterprises.

Greece has depended on global bailouts since 2010. To receive the funds, successive governments slashed incomes, hiked taxes and implemented market reforms, boosting state revenues but also deepening a recession that wiped a quarter off the economy and left almost one in four workers jobless.

"We are determined... not to let anyone play games against the Greek economy", he added.

"That momentum is slipping away from us so we really need to work fast and have it done certainly well in time for the next payments Greece has to make", Dijsselbloem said.

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