Troika’s scheduled return to Athens next week is put off

The scheduled return to Athens on Monday by representatives of Greece’s troika of international creditors has been postponed, European sources in Brussels have told Kathimerini.

The same sources said that, following talks between the troika and Eurogroup officials, it was decided that there would be no point in another mission to Athens that would fail to complete an evaluation of the country’s progress with economic reforms. “We can’t go back to Athens and then interrupt the review again. That’s already happened twice,” a European official told Kathimerini. The official added that efforts to achieve a deal before a Eurogroup summit scheduled for December 9 were almost certain to be unsuccessful.

Greece has a final chance to reach a deal, and secure the next 1-billion-euro tranche of rescue funding, ahead of the final Eurogroup of the year which is likely to be held on December 18 before a summit of EU leaders.

Several issues must be resolved for this to happen. The first key obstacle is a budget gap for 2014 which is now estimated at 1.2 billion euros. Athens has proposed measures to cover this gap but the troika has yet to evaluate measures accounting for half the sum.

Athens must also make good on so-called prior actions. The key stumbling block here is the overhaul of the state defense firm, EAS.

According to sources, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras discussed the progress of negotiations with European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde as well as the IMF’s envoy to Athens Poul Thomsen during a teleconference call late on Thursday.

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