The Eurogroup acknowledged on Thursday the positive course of the Greek economy before the pandemic and the government’s rapid reaction to the spread of the coronavirus, and gave the nod for measures benefiting Athens to the tune of 748 million euros.
Thursday’s Eurogroup teleconference examined the sixth enhanced surveillance report by the European Commission on Greece, which was the third consecutive positive report for Athens in less than a year, Greek Finance Ministry sources pointed out.
The eurozone finance ministers “acknowledged the good course of the economy before the outbreak of the health crisis,” said Greek Minister Christos Staikouras, adding that the meeting also “praised the rapid and decisive reaction of the government” to the pandemic and its economic consequences.
“The Eurogroup took note of progress in a series of reforms, in spite of the adverse conditions, as well as the prospects for a strong rebound in 2021,” Staikouras added. The ministers reiterated that the fiscal flexibility that applies to all member-states will also include the targets set for Greece in the context of the enhanced surveillance, which means Greece will definitely not need to record a primary budget surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product for this year at least.
The statement by the Eurogroup on Greece noted: “We welcome the progress achieved in a number of reform areas, including the privatization agenda, social welfare, the labor market and the functioning of the public administration. There have been some delays with the reform process, for example with regard to the financial sector. We acknowledge that these delays were mainly due to operational constraints linked to the coronavirus epidemic.”
In this light the Eurogroup approved the disbursement of €640 million from the earnings of eurozone central banks from Greek bond holdings (SMPs and ANFA profits) and the abolition of the step-up interest margin on certain European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) loans worth €108 million.
“Our plan, with the realization of pro-growth reforms and despite the major challenges ahead of us, will allow us to overcome today’s difficulties with the least possible social and economic consequences,” Staikouras stated.