The government has hailed the results of Monday’s Eurogroup in Brussels as a step in the right direction toward wrapping up the first review of Greece’s third bailout, leading to debt relief and a tranche of rescue funds.
“Essentially, the first review is closing without additional measures, based on our proposals,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday after meeting with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, adding that he expected a “positive decision” for Greece at the next Eurogroup on May 24.
Senior officials said a road map for debt relief, a key Greek demand, was raised for the first time and that finance ministers of the Eurogroup accepted the government’s proposal to set up an automatic fiscal mechanism if the country fails to meet its budgetary targets until 2018 – instead of legislating contingent measures as demanded by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. The government has yet to disclose how its automatic mechanism would work.
However, opposition conservatives said the Eurogroup announcement after the meeting did not justify the government’s confidence, saying that actual debt relief won’t occur before 2018 and that the SYRIZA-led coalition, which swept to power on an anti-austerity ticket, is now being forced to implement measures that target workers and the less privileged.
According to aides of New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the government still has its work cut out for it before it can complete the review by May 24 and it will walk a tight rope as it has to legislate yet more measures before then and implement the highly unpopular pension cuts and tax hikes that were narrowly voted in Parliament late Sunday.