BUSINESS

Obstacles in path to Eurogroup

EIRINI CHRYSOLORA

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos

TAGS: Finance

Two important obstacles still stand in the way of the implementation of the remaining prior actions required for Greece’s creditors to sign off on the third bailout review, as the insufficient progress in online auctions and the Elliniko development is raising concerns ahead of the February 19 Eurogroup meeting.

The outstanding milestones will be discussed on Thursday by the Euro Working Group, and Kathimerini understands that 103 or 104 of a total 110 prior actions have been implemented to date, up from 95 at the previous Eurogroup. The six or seven that remain are also expected to be implemented by February 19, sources say, with the possible exception of the number of auctions and the Elliniko project.

The government is still awaiting the Council of State’s decision approving the presidential decree for the development of Elliniko, while the Finance Ministry is worried the creditors may consider that the prior action concerning the auctions has not been fulfilled as it was rather vague and its assessment cannot be taken for granted. The milestone, as spelt out by the creditors, requires a constant increase in the number of online auctions, that physical auctions are gradually passed on to the online platform (the law dictates that should happen by February 21) and that auctions be expanded across Greece.

The target the European Commission’s compliance report set for the third review is for 10,000 auctions to take place this year and 40,000 per annum between 2019 and 2021. The Finance Ministry expects that once the online platform is fully operational it will conduct 1,000 auctions per month, rising to 2,000 from October.

The same sources say the delays on both fronts are merely technical and that the government may show adequate progress at the Eurogroup to prove that finishing off the last pending issues is just a matter of days. They therefore hope that the eurozone finance ministers will give their nod for the disbursement of the 6.7-billion-euro tranche.

On Thursday at least the government can expect some favorable words from European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on his visit to Athens.

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