The government and the country’s creditors have three landmark dates ahead of them in their effort to strike a staff-level agreement for the second review of Greece’s third bailout. The timetable is particularly tight, with Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis saying on Tuesday that although the deadline is pressing, achieving the target remains realistic.
The first key date is next Monday, November 21. Until then the creditors’ chief representatives will be in Athens for the negotiations with the government on the second review. According to sources, they will depart from Greece on Tuesday, and there will be a short break due to holidays in Northern European countries and Thanksgiving in the US.
The second landmark date is November 28, when the Euro Working Group convenes. The creditors will have to present the progress in the negotiations, as the original planning provided for the staff-level agreement to be ready by then. This, however, appears very difficult now.
The third and most important date is December 5, when the Eurogroup will hold its last meeting of the year. All sides are working toward presenting some sort of progress then (it is possible the creditors will return to Athens before that date) for political approval to be granted on the staff-level agreement, and then talks on easing the Greek debt can begin.
As officials familar with the matter say, in this scenario a number of issues still pending from the second review could be defined as milestones for implementation in the following month.
On Tuesday the second round of talks started with the participation of Stathakis, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis, and Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou. The meeting set the timetable for the negotiations, and according to Stathakis, with a bit of good will from both sides, a deal could be reached within the timetable.
A little later Tsakalotos and Stathakis had another meeting with the creditors on the new privatizations fund, which should start operating from January, though its rules of operation and its board appointments remain pending.