BUSINESS

Athens prepares for fresh round of bailout talks, possible extra measures

TAGS: Economy, Euro

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is holding a series of meetings on Monday ahead of the return of Greece’s lenders to Athens for the first bailout review.

Tsipras is speaking to advisers and key government members as the coalition prepares to resume the negotiations, which were paused so officials could take part in the International Monetary Fund’s spring meeting.

Greece and its lenders have yet to finalize a range of issues, including pension and tax reform and the sale of non-performing loans. There is also a disagreement between the European creditors and the IMF about the amount of measures needed to reach the 3.5 percent primary surplus target in 2018.

A possible compromise emerged over the weekend, which would see Greece have to identify and agree an extra 2.7 billion euros in contingency measures. These would be passed through Parliament with the other fiscal interventions and automatically activated if the primary surplus target is not met.

Government sources stressed on Sunday that Athens has not agreed to this option yet.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said that an agreement is within sight. "I think this agreement is feasible within weeks," he said at the sidelines of the IMF meetings.

"There is progress. There have been meetings to discuss the positions of different sides, and I think we are getting closer."

However, the creation of a package of contingency measures may mean that Greeks hopes for a deal by Friday’s Eurogroup are not fulfilled. Finding 2.7 billion euros in savings or extra revenues may involve interventions in the public sector and would still require the European lenders and the IMF to be in agreement.

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