Interim Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis returned from Saturday’s Eurogroup meeting with a message for Greece that the already limited time should not be wasted and that the reforms the country has to implement in the coming months are many.
The Greek minister assured the council of eurozone finance ministers that work concerning the implementation of the new bailout program as far as non-legislative procedures are concerned is continuing so as to lose as little time as possible.
This Eurogroup was the first in the last seven months or so – a period full of repeated meetings between eurozone ministers on the subject of Greece – that was not exclusively focused on this country. Still, there are “many steps” Greece has to take by mid-October, according to Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. He cited the reforms to the social security system, the independence of the revenues department and the drafting of the 2016 budget among next month’s tasks.
Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem and European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure were clear that there could only be some minor changes to the bailout agreement regarding the points that have not yet been agreed on, such as the labor issue. Dijsselbloem said, “It is clear at this moment that the majority of Greeks support parties that have voted in favor of the bailout,” thereby sending a message to Athens that the implementation of the agreement is a given.
The Eurogroup stressed the significance of completing the first assessment within October so that the next installment is disbursed in November as scheduled. European Stability Mechanism (ESM) head Klaus Regling stressed that the rating agencies may have responded positively to the agreement in August, “but with the first problems this good news could easily be reversed.”