Eurogroup defers decision on changes to Greek bailout

Eurozone finance ministers did not discuss in detail possible changes to Greece?s bailout terms when they met in Luxembourg on Thursday but agreed to release 1 billion euros of funding for Athens that had been held back from a loan instalment last month.

Speaking after the meeting, Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker said that it was too early to decide on Greece?s request for changes to the loan adjustment period, such as an extension to the fiscal adjustment period.

?As far as Greece is concerned, we didn’t discuss today in detail the articulation of the reviewed memorandum of understanding,? said the Luxembourg prime minister.

“We will send … our people on the ground, they will be invited by the Greek authorities from first meetings on Monday morning, we will have a look into the findings of the (EU/IMF) troika and then we will discuss in detail the different means and instruments which can be used.

“It doesn’t make sense for the time being to give more precise indications on the content of the programme … this depends on the findings of the troika.”

French Finance Minister Pierre Moskovici suggested that some changes to Greece?s program would be made.

“We still think the engagements undertaken by Greece should be respected…(but) we are in favour of a certain flexibility and taking into account the expectations of the Greek people, particularly in terms of economic growth,» he told reporters.

The Austrian finance minister, Maria Fekter, took a tougher line on the Greek bailout. ?We will have to see how much time Greece missed due to its election campaign… if it missed too much, Greece will have to work even harder,» she said.

Dutch finance minister, Jan Kees de Jager, was also sceptical about making concessions to Greece. «There is no alternative with regards to the reform,that is clear,? he said. ?With smarter measures then you can realise more, that is better, but an alternative to hard, painful reform, that alternative is not there.”

Juncker added that the 1 billion euros would be released soon. However, Athens will only keep about 100 million of this as the rest is set to go towards its contribution to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)

?We took note that the EFSF will disperse the remaining 1 billion euros of the first instalment before the end of this month,? said Juncker.

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