As MPs brace for another vote in Parliament on Friday, aimed at approving the final batch of so-called prior actions demanded by Greece’s creditors, new concerns have arisen over the objections of foreign officials to a new education bill perceived as plunging universities into the past.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou met with SYRIZA MPs on Thursday in a bid to overcome lingering objections to some outstanding economic measures which have already been agreed with Greece’s creditors but have yet to be legislated.
They must be passed into law if Greek officials are to secure bailout funding, and a positive statement on debt relief, at a Eurogroup meeting scheduled for June 15.
Although the pending prior actions have been agreed with Greece’s creditors, they ruffled some feathers among SYRIZA MPs as they include freezing pensions until 2022 and concessions on labor rights for workers in the private sector. Tsakalotos and Achtsioglou were said to have had a difficult afternoon talking around dissenters.
Nevertheless, it is thought that there are unlikely to be defections in Friday’s vote.
The government did not table the prior actions in Parliament as a separate bill but tagged it onto another piece of legislation relating to fishing regulations in the Mediterranean, an apparent bid to play down the unpopular measures. But the move prompted heavy criticism from the political opposition.
Meanwhile, the government has a new headache. According to sources, Greece’s foreign creditors object to several aspects of a new bill aimed at overhauling Greek universities and technical colleges.
The bill, which is currently under public consultation, aims to increase the role of students in the management of universities and, controversially, will make it more difficult for police to enter university grounds, essentially reinstating an asylum law that the previous conservative administration had revoked.
Another provision foresees exempting 40 percent of students enrolled in postgraduate programs from paying university and college fees.
Creditors reportedly believe the latter provision will make Greek higher education institutions less competitive. They are also said to be concerned about the general thrust of the reforms which bring back old practices.