The agreement on a range of often politically sensitive measures – covering fiscal issues, energy and labor market reforms, bad loans and privatizations – could push Greece further along the path towards a return to full market financing.
“The institutions’ visit is completed, we closed the staff level agreement,” Greece’s Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters on Saturday.
“The European institutions have reached a staff level agreement with the Greek authorities on the policy package supporting the ESM (European Stability Programme) program,” an EU statement said later on Saturday.
Once concluded, the third review of the bailout programme is expected to release about five billion euros in loans from the current 86-billion-euro bailout program, its third since 2010.
EU officials said this could be done before the end of January, if all proceeded smoothly.
At least another review of agreed reforms will be necessary before the end of the program in August.
The staff-level agreement came as Athens has stepped up its efforts to quickly finalize outstanding reforms attached to its bailout, which is set to run until August.
Bloomberg says, this is because prolonged and acrimonious negotiations could harm its chances of convincing bond investors that it’s committed to keeping its house in order, and would likely draw the ire of its euro-area creditors at a time when they are expected to discuss granting Greece further debt relief.