Eurozone finance ministers are hoping their outgoing Greek counterpart, Euclid Tsakalotos, will not skip this Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting – like he did last month – so that they get the chance to personally express their objections to the Greek government’s policies, as explained in last week’s European Commission report.
Although Greece is not on the official agenda, the meeting in Luxembourg is the last chance the eurozone ministers may get to address Tsakalotos before the Greek parliamentary election, even though they know it won’t be him who’ll have to resolve the problems they refer to.
However, they feel it is necessary to provide their feedback to the government that is responsible for the creation of those problems, and not to leave the report’s concerns unaddressed until September, when the next government will be able to deal with them.
The main warnings from the Commission concern the handouts announced in early May by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that put at risk the achievement of the primary budget surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product.
They also concern the delays in privatizations and other reforms, such as the payment of overdue arrears to suppliers and taxpayers, the reduction of nonperforming loans and addressing the problems faced by Public Power Corporation.
The Commission’s concerns were aggravated by the further economic slowdown recorded in Greece’s first-quarter data, which showed growth at just 1.3 percent year-on-year, the lowest annual rate in two years.
According to sources, last week at the Euro Working Group Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis defended the measures announced by Tsipras, arguing that they correct the distortion of the constant excesses in the primary surplus in recent years.
Notably, the eurozone finance ministers are still refraining from making a decision on the early payment of expensive loans from the International Monetary Fund amounting to 3.7 billion euros.