Greece fails to secure release of 5.7 bln euro tranche at Eurogroup

TAGS: Economy, EU

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos came away from Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers without their approval for the release of 5.7 billion euros in bailout funding.

The money from the fourth tranche is not expected to fill Greek coffers until at least mid-March, as the Eurogroup is demanding that Greece complete two pending prior actions from 110 reforms it needed to implement in order to wrap up the program.

The pending reforms relate to electronic foreclosures – seen as key in helping Greek lenders manage their massive stockpile of nonperforming loans – and delays in the privatization of the old Athens airport plot at Elliniko.

“Of all the 110 prior actions, only two are still outstanding which are outside the control of the government. I am confident they can be cleared soon,” Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno said, according to Reuters.

European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici also appeared upbeat, saying that “very significant progress” has been made in Greece and expressing confidence that the two prior actions will be completed in time for the next Eurogroup.

“Teams will return to Athens to start discussions next Monday on the fourth and final review,” Moscovici said on Twitter. “The aim of the mission will be to agree plans for the completion of all the required actions by May, so that the 21 June Eurogroup can take the necessary decisions.”

“Teams will also discuss the growth strategy for Greece for the coming years,” the French economist said. “When Greece concludes its program six months from now, it must become a normal country in terms of EU procedures and a normal member of the eurozone.”

The head of the European Stability Mechanism, Klaus Regling, said in comments after the meeting that he does not “anticipate” the 5.7-billion-euro tranche being disbursed before mid-March, partly due to the scheduling constraints of a German parliamentary committee that has to green light the disbursement, according to Bloomberg. [Combined reports]