EU Official: Too Early for Greece to Speak of “Clean Exit” from Bailout Program

Declan Costello, the European Commission mission chief for Greece’s bailout program, said on Tuesday that it is too early for Athens to speak of a “clean exit” from the rescue agreement.

Speaking at the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, the Irish economist said that it is not certain yet that Greece will not need additional financial aid after the completion of the bailout program in August 2018. So, he said, it is not beneficial for the Greek government to speak of a “clean exit”.

The EU official also said that the third review of the bailout program is not completed yet, because about 70% of the 110 prerequisites have not been implemented yet.

Costello went on to say that Greece has committed to more pension cuts as of January 1st, 2019, and a lower tax-free income threshold as of 2020. Therefore, he said, the two measures must be implemented, despite recent Greek government announcements that the measures will be withdrawn if the International Monetary Fund does not participate financially in the bailout program. He underlined that Greece agreed to the measures with the European institutions as well, not with the IMF alone.

The EU official continued to say that the Greek economy was at the bottom of the eurozone in the beginning of the bailout programs, but has made important reforms since then. He added, however, that despite the important reforms, Greece is still between the bottom and the middle of the ranking.

Finally, Costello said that negotiations on the Greek debt will start only after the successful completion of the rescue program.