First prior actions to be completed by end-June

Hardouvelis tells Eurogroup peers that reform effort is ongoing

Greece has committed itself to the immediate fulfillment of some prior actions required for the disbursement of the next bailout sub-tranches, the head of the Eurogroup stated on Thursday following a meeting of the council of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that Greece’s new finance minister, Gikas Hardouvelis, had assured his counterparts that “the first prior actions will have been completed by the end of the month.” He added that Hardouvelis promised Athens will continue with its difficult efforts and provided details regarding Haris Theoharis’s departure from the post of general secretary for public revenues. The Dutch minister noted that the Eurogroup was assured that the replacement process will be “open and transparent.”

“There was no reference to tax easing,” Dijsselbloem said when questioned over whether Hardouvelis had touched on the issue. He went on to stress the need for Greece to fulfill its commitments regarding the prior actions and that there is plenty of work ahead.

On the matter of Greece’s public debt, the Eurogroup chief made it clear that the eurozone ministers have committed themselves to examining the issue after the summer. He stated that there are three conditions: that Greece covers the program’s requirements in terms of reforms, prior actions etc, that the country’s budget shows a primary surplus, and that a revision is conducted to determine whether another debt lightening is indeed necessary.

For his part, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, Klaus Regling, offered assurances that the extension of the maturity of the loans and the possibility of any further interventions in the interest rates on the loans Greece received in its first bailout will be examined before the end of the year.

He added that there is no margin for reducing the rates of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), as “at the moment we are charging the least possible and if we reduce our rates further then someone will need to compensate us.” That someone could be the eurozone member states, but he said that does not appear likely.