NEWS

Commission says there is ‘no drama’ in inspectors’ departure from Athens, notes progress

European Commission spokesperson for economic and monetary affairs Simon O’Connor said on Thursday that there is “no drama” in the suspension of the troika’s review mission to Greece after inspectors from Greece’s foreign creditors said that they will be leaving Athens to return in early April.

“The Greek adjustment program is very extensive in terms of the reforms that are envisaged and given the challenges that Greece faced when it started the program, and this mission is being interrupted to allow technical work to take place before concluding the review,” O’Connor told reporters in Brussels during a regular press briefing.

“We’ve identified quite a number of areas in which reforms have actually exceeded expectations and are delivering important and permanent results,” the Commission spokesperson added. “Overall the message is quite positive but there is still quite a lot of work to be done.”

On the issue of whether Athens will be receiving the next bailout tranche of 2.8 billion euros, O’Connor said “the Greek authorities are working on the various elements of the two milestones for this disbursement,” adding that “this can be disbursed without there being a staff mission.”

He said that “once the troika judges that those milestones have been fulfilled it will be for the euro working group to decide whether to proceed with the disbursement.”

Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank released a statement on Thursday prior to their departure from Athens saying that there are a few issues that have not been settled with the government, and that “as additional technical work will be necessary to settle these issues, the mission will take a short break to allow this work to be completed.”

Talks between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and troika officials lasted for a couple of hours on Wednesday night but no conclusion was reached on matters including the reduction of civil servant numbers and a payment plan for firms and individuals who owe social security contributions.