Eurogroup Chief: Greece’s Bailout Review Will Take Months

dijsselbloemThe first comprehensive review of Greece’s bailout program will take months to complete, not weeks, said President of Eurozone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem, on Thursday.

Greece expects the completion of the first review so that European partners will sit down on the negotiating table to discuss debt easing. However, Djisselbloem told reporters in Amsterdam, Athens must implement satisfactorily a series of necessary reforms first. A positive review will also unlock the next loan tranche for the cash-strapped government.

The reforms include drastic changes in the security fund system, labor laws and farmers taxation, all of them met with social disapproval so far.

“There can only be a successful completion of the first review if there is an agreement on all the open issues — and the pension reform is the biggest one,” Dijsselbloem said. The review will need “certainly rather months than weeks,” he said.

European creditors and the International Monetary Fund insist on their demands for an overhaul of Greece’s pension and tax systems and a strict fiscal policy.

The Greek government will table the reforms in parliament between January 20 and January 25. The debate and vote on the bill is expected to be completed in the first 10 days of February.

“A positive outcome of that will lead to further disbursements, tranches for Greece, will lead to a debate on debt restructuring, debt-related measures — but that will be the order of things,” the Dutch finance minister added.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will have a series of meetings with his Eurozone counterparts on Friday. He is scheduled to meet Dijsselbloem in Amsterdam on January 12 and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin the following day.


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