Efforts to conclude an agreement between Athens and the troika ahead of the European Union leaders’ summit on Thursday are unlikely to succeed as the two sides remained some distance apart on the austerity measures and structural reforms needed to seal the deal.
This means that a decision on the disbursement of Greece’s next loan tranche will have have to be taken at an extraordinary Eurogroup meeting toward the end of this month or at the beginning of November. Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet on November 12 but should there be an agreement in Athens over the next few days, another meeting to decide on the Greek installment is likely to be called before then.
The troika’s latest demands, particularly with respect to the labor market, where Greece’s lenders want the notice period and compensation for workers facing dismissal to be reduced substantially, have created friction in the coalition. PASOK and Democratic Left have expressed their concerns to Samaras, who is due to meet with his coalition partners, Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis, on Tuesday afternoon.
The troika is due to resume talks with Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Tuesday. Greece’s lenders want the notice period to be reduced from six months to three and for the compensation to be a maximum of 12 months’ pay rather than 24.
Another sticking point is the troika’s demand for immediate sackings in the public sector. A meeting between visiting officials and Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis on Monday failed to yield results, although the latter said he was hopeful that there would be an agreement. The troika has rejected a plan for 15,000 civil servants to be dismissed with reduced wages for a year, demanding instead that bureaucrats from state organizations that are closed or merged be made redundant straight away.