Eurogroup OKs next loan tranche, pushes for reform

Eurozone officials meeting in Brussels on Monday gave the green light for the release of 1 billion euros in rescue loans for Greece but also urged authorities to push forward with pending reforms agreed with the country’s so-called troika of international creditors ahead of the scheduled return of inspectors to Athens this week.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he “welcomed” the fact that Greece had honored a first set of six milestones, noting that this allows for a sum of 1 billion euros in loans to be unlocked. The six prior actions enforced by Greece include a revision of pharmacists’ profit margins and a new code of ethics for ministers and MPs. Referring to Gikas Hardouvelis, Dijsselbloem said he had received assurances that Athens would complete a second set of six milestones by early August. “We called on Greece to make swift progress with this other MoU commitment,” Dijsselbloem said. Earlier in the day European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi expressed concern about the rate of progress in Greece, according to government sources who said he pointed to press reports describing a “relaxation of structural reforms.”

Dijsselbloem said troika officials told him they were planning a “technical mission” to Athens this week to “take stock of the situation,” noting that the next review of Greece’s reform progress would begin when the next six milestones have been implemented.