ECONOMY

Euro Working Group to discuss Greece on Wednesday

The Euro Working Group (EWG) of eurozone technical staff is expected to convene on Wednesday, possibly via teleconference, to discuss, among other issues, a Greek request for the return of 1.2 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

According to a February 20 Eurogroup agreement, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) was supposed to return the funds it did not utilize for the recapitalization of Greek banks. It had borrowed 49.7 billion euros and used 40 billion. Instead of returning 9.7 billion it gave 10.9 billion euros back to the EFSF, or the exact value of the EFSF bonds it had. Therefore the government believes it has realistic grounds to demand the return of the extra 1.2 billion euros.

One European official told Kathimerini that is unlikely the request will be accepted without Greece committing to reforms demanded by its international creditors in exchange for unlocking any further funds. The same sources suggested it is more likely for Greece to receive the 1.9 billion euros from profits made by European central banks on Greek bonds purchased through the SMP scheme than the 1.2 billion euros, but added that this would also be dependent on the government passing the reforms being demanded by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Wednesday’s EWG meeting is also expected to address the progress of a technical review being carried out by the three institutions in Athens on Greek finances. The review resumed on Monday after being interrupted last week, though little progress is expected as none of the technocrats participating in the process have decision-making powers.