In his address to the Greek people, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed that yesterday’s Eurogroup agreement with the country’s European loan partners was an “important success,” signaling the end of austerity and the bailout program. Although, as he underlined, the difficult part of the negotiations still lies ahead.
“We won a battle, but not the war. The difficulties lie ahead of us,” Tsipras said regarding the new agreement. This entails a four-month extension of the loan agreement without new austerity measures and a commitment that no unilateral actions will be taken.
The difficulties for the Greek government seem to have started from the first hours following Friday’s Eurogroup, as the country’s deadline to come up with viable reform proposals in order to secure an extension to its existing bailout package, as well as drafting a new one, is due this coming Monday. The planning of the government’s new moves is to be tabled in today’s meeting between Tsipras and his cabinet.
According to the Eurogroup statement on Greece issued yesterday, the Greek authorities will present a first list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, by the end of Monday, February 23. The institutions will provide a first view whether this is sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review. This list will be further specified and then agreed with the institutions by the end of April. As declared, only approval of the extended arrangement’s review conclusion by the institutions will allow for any disbursement of the outstanding tranche of the current EFSF program and the transfer of the 2014 Securities Markets Program profits. Both are again subject to approval by the Eurogroup.
Athens greeted the deal to extend the country’s loan agreement as the first step away from five difficult years of austerity, although others received yesterday’s announcement with skepticism. The newly elected SYRIZA-led Greek government is trying to balance between the much-needed accordance with European institutions in an attempt to avoid a liquidity crunch and Greek Prime Minister Tsipras’ promises to put an end to the previous government’s austerity policies, imposed by the EC/ECB/IMF Troika.