Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker appeared confident late on Monday that Greece’s next bailout instalment would be approved later this month, once Athens has completed its bond buyback program.
Speaking after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, the Luxembourg prime minister said he was hopeful that a Eurogroup meeting on December 13, at the sidelines of a European Union leaders’ summit, would lead to the disbursement of the 34.4-billion-euro loan tranche.
Juncker said that Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who he referred to as a “colleague and friend,” had informed the Eurogroup about the details of the buyback scheme. But the Eurogroup chief would not be drawn any further on the Greek issue.
“I would not wish to go into details [of the buyback] at this time,” he said. “We will reconvene on December 13 to finalize our decision.”
Juncker announced that he is stepping down as eurozone finance ministerial chairman as of the end of the month.
The Luxembourg prime minister — Europe’s longest-serving national leader — said he informed colleagues that he would carry out his stated intention to step down «at the end of this year, or the beginning of next year.”
Juncker has held the post as Eurogroup head since 2005, and his current term officially runs until July 17.
He has previously been in a similar situation, but was persuaded to continue due to the absence of a candidate clearly acceptable to both the main powers in the currency union, France and Germany.
The two countries, the eurozone’s biggest, have not managed to agree so far on who should take on the pivotal job, with Paris resisting a suggestion from Berlin that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble be given the nod.
Juncker has previously indicated that Schaeuble would be a good choice, but asked whom he would endorse, Juncker said: «I don’t have to endorse anyone, I asked for my colleagues to provide for my succession.”
[Kathimerini English Edition & AFP]