By Nikos Chrysoloras
BRUSSELS - The council of eurozone finance ministers, known as the Eurogroup, may hold an extraordinary meeting on July 20 to discuss the situation in Greece and in Spain, according to reports, despite being set to hold a scheduled meeting on Monday.
As far as Greece is concerned, the first discussions on the ongoing inspection by the mission of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- known as the troika -- will take place at Monday’s scheduled Eurogroup meeting. The Europeans are expected to decide what stance they will take with respect to the inspection and the negotiation for the signing of the updated bailout agreement with the troika.
Diplomatic sources told Kathimerini that European governments are being cautious, and will remain so at least until the end of the bailout program’s evaluation. The evaluation is not seen happening before Monday’s meeting, which will be taken up by the Spanish and Cypriot requests for entry into the European Support Mechanism (ESM) and the implementation of the May 28-29 European Council decisions.
As a result, an extra meeting of the Eurogroup will be necessary on July 20. That is when the troika will receive its political orders regarding its negotiating mandate, signaling what kind of concessions European governments are prepared to make. The new round of talks with the Greek side will begin on July 24.
Sources from Luxembourg confirm that until the revised bailout agreement is signed, there will be no further disbursements from the ESM to Greece beyond the 1 billion euros that had been withheld from the May tranche. On the issue of what would happen if Greek cash reserves run out while the talks are ongoing,Kathimerini has learned that the situation is being monitored and decisions will be made according to developments.
Kathimerini also understands that among the issues to be discussed at Monday’s Eurogroup is the bond maturing on August 20, which Greece will not be able to repay unless funds from the ESM are disbursed. A month’s extension could be granted, although several European governments will likely voice disagreement.