BUSINESS

Eurozone to veto core program changes

Senior official says that bloc will only accept limited fine-tuning to Greece’s streamlining project By Eleni Varvitsioti

Greece’s creditors will not accept any changes to the core of the country’s streamlining program, only limited peripheral fine-tuning, as is the case during every assessment of the program, according to a top eurozone official in Brussels.

The two sub-tranches set for the end of May and end-June, each amounting to 1 billion euros, have been linked to six prior actions “whose implementation we are still awaiting,” said the same official. “I hope that the May prior actions will be completed by the end of this month.”

He added that the fiscal targets set for Greece are achievable, which is indicative of the attitude that the eurozone is expected to maintain in the coming months despite Athens’s intention to soften the harder-to-meet targets, such as achieving a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product next year. The message from the top European official is clear: The Greek government must focus on the implementation of its obligations and stick to the agreed framework.

Although the bailout funding for Greece is coming to an end, the European official was reluctant to predict what the next steps would be or to comment as to whether there would be another lightening of the country’s debt, saying that there were many options but they would be discussed after the summer.

He went on to stress the significance of the growth plan which former minister Yannis Stournaras had presented to his eurozone counterparts in May. The eurozone official said adhesion to the plan is vital for the realization of the fiscal targets, while priority should be given to measures that will further liberalize the Greek economy.

At Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting, which will be Gikas Hardouvelis’s first as Greece’s finance minister, his eurozone counterparts will be keen to meet him and listen to his presentation of the Greek government’s plans and priorities, as well as form an opinion as to his commitment to reforms. The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, will also be taking part in the Eurogroup session in Luxembourg.

Online