Upon his arrival the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem underlined the need to speed up the implementation of prior actions, even though some the timetables were not realistic.
“I admit that some of the timetables agreed last summer were not absolutely realistic. However, the Greek authorities need to accelerate; no more time can be lost” Mr. Dijsselbloem said. “The pressure is back on, it really needs progress. The summer is over. Pack up the camping gear, get back to work” he added.
Regarding the case of Eurostat, he said that this was an unfortunate moment and the issue has been sent to court. “(Deputy Finance Minister George) Chouliarakis has made a statement in the Greek Parliament so we have to wait” Mr. Dijsselbloem commented adding that the credibility of the Greek statistics is very important.
The German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble tersely noted that he is waiting the institutions’ report on the implementation of the agreement reached last summer. He also reminded that fully implementing the prior actions is a precondition for the rest of the bailout money to be unlocked for Greece.
“Today is Sept. 9, so there is still time for Greece” Mr. Schäuble told reporters. “It’s not new that, with Greece, we see the implementation of the measures that have been agreed towards the final phase of the agreed time frame”.
However, the Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling told reporters ahead of the meeting “I'm not feeling very good about Greece, agreements are there to be implemented”; he too added that the ministers are waiting for the institutions report on the implementation of the prior actions.
According to the Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir, Greece has achieved a lot, however there is a lot more that needs to be done, while the Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan expressed his hope that the Greek economy will continue to grow and overcome the crisis.
Meanwhile, the institutions (namely the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Stability Mechanism) representing Greece’s international lenders are expected back in Athens on 12 September in order to inspect the implementation of the Greek program and therefore compile a compliance report on the disbursement of the 2.8 billion euro sub-tranche.
Governmental sources argue that all prior actions will be completed by the end of September, the latest the beginning of October and that the Eurogroup scheduled for October 10 will approve the release of the rest of the money. This will pave the way for the second evaluation of the Greek program to begin.
During the Bratislava Eurogroup, Eurozone Finance ministers and central bankers will also consider a euro zone crisis fund to shield the region against financial shocks. The discussion on the creation of such fund is expected to take place on Friday according to Reuters’ sources and Slovak EU presidency note prepared for the ministers' discussions.
Greek FinMin presented Greece's progress
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos briefed his counterparts on Friday over the latest economic data showing that economic indicators in Greece are improving rapidly. The minister argued that after a positive growth rate recorded in Greece in the second quarter of 2016, this trend will be continued in the following quarters of the year, to achieve a 0.3 pct economic contraction rate at the end of the year.
The Athens News Agency reports that according to its sources the Euclid Tsakalotos raised the issue of measures to relief the Greek debt and pressed for the immediate implementation of short-tem measures and the defining of the medium-term measures. Mr. Tsakalotos also briefed his counterparts that 1.5 billion euros from the previous tranche have been given to repay state arrears to the private sector, achieving a target set by the Eurogroup.