Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem addressed the Eurozone’s performance in 2015, identifying the amount of time dedicated to Greece as a downturn.
In recapping an intense year for the Eurozone ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, Dijsselbloem touched on the positive and negative highlights at the epicentre of the monetary union.
“The good news was that the economic recovery became stronger in almost all of our countries except one. The bad news was that we had spent a lot of time on Greece. But that program is also back on track” he said.
Monday’s Eurogroup will discuss among other topics the progress of the three year 86 billion euro Greek bailout and will likely layout the plan for the country’s path in the next six months.
The Greek government will vote on a new set of bailout prior actions by December 18 to secure a one billion euro bailout installment, according to discussions among Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his ministers earlier on Monday.
Moscovici Sees Cooperation Between Greece and Creditors
Greek authorities and the institutions are cooperating well on the completion of the second package of prior actions required by the country’s lenders. This is according to Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner of Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.
Commenting on the recapitalization of Greece’s systemic banks, he said it is proceeding well and that he hoped all sides can proceed with the completion of the second batch of reforms. On the same issue, he said there’s no agreement yet between the two sides, but that there’s a spirit of cooperation.
Concerning today’s Eurogroup, the Commissioner said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is expected to make a presentation on the state of play on these negotiations, while he noted that the vote of the 2016 budget from the Greek parliament which was based on “more favorable or less adverse estimations” is a “good development”.
He noted however that work still remains to be done to complete the agreement on the reforms which will complete the first Greek program review.
In an earlier tweet Moscovici said he had “constructive discussions” with Greek Labour Minister George Katrougalos on issues of pension and labour market reforms in Greece. Katrougalos is in Brussels to attend a meeting of EU’s employment council.
According to sources on Monday, Tsakalotos had a meeting with ECB head Mario Draghi.
Dombrovskis Calls for Sustainable Pension Reform
Greece needs to build a long-term, sustainable, less fragmented and more just pension system, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in Greece as he arrived at the Eurogroup meeting on Monday.
He noted, however, that pension system reforms in Greece are linked to the targets set in the country’s 2016 budget which was ratified last week and the first program review expected in early 2016. “The important issue is going to be the first program review which we expect early next year and the recent Greek parliament vote on the 2016 budget aiming to reach a primary surplus target set in this program is an important step,” he said.
“However, now we need to continue discussions with Greek authorities on how exactly those targets are going to be reached and probably an important element there is the situation regarding pension reform because it is first needed to ensure long-term, sustainable, less fragmented and a more just pension system in Greece, but also has substantial tax implications,” he added.
(With information from ANA-MPA)