The Euro Working Group held the first round of discussions on Greece’s third bailout review in Brussels on Monday, as the first mission of creditors’ technical experts is expected to head to Athens next week to pave the way for the talks scheduled to start in October.
Brussels is well aware that the review cannot proceed until the German elections take place and a new government is formed in Berlin, as Germany plays a key role in the process. The International Monetary Fund also wants Berlin at the table and until there is someone filling the spot of German finance minister, the Fund will not come forward with its view.
The technical team coming to Athens next week is therefore only expected to get the lay of the land, with the agenda for the review not being set until October’s mission.
The persistent persecution of former Hellenic Statistical Authority chief Andreas Georgiou has particularly upset a number of officials in Brussels and was also discussed in Monday’s EWG meeting. The European Commission knows that the matter is in the hands of the Greek justice system and not the government, so has no means to intervene.
At the same time there is also concern about the latest bill on labor, with the impression being that it contains reforms that effectively abolish previous ones. There specifically appears to be a problem with the unemployment benefits for freelance professionals.
Meanwhile, the disbursement of a subtranche of 800 million euros that is part of the previous bailout review, is still pending as there is no clear picture yet of the Greek state’s progress in paying back its expired debts to third parties, a key condition for the payment of that last installment.