Greece aiming for troika agreement by EU leaders’ summit on Dec 20

Athens is hoping to make substantial progress in its efforts to conclude the latest review of its adjustment program in time for the Eurogroup meeting due to take place on December 18 and the European Union leaders’ summit two days later, Kathimerini understands.

The troika has put off plans to return next week. As Simon O’Connor, a spokesman for European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, confirmed on Saturday, troika officials do not have any intention of returning to Athens before the December 9 Eurogroup. The Greek side is now aiming to reach an agreement with its lenders in the days after that particular meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

For any deal to be reached, Greece has to settle several key issues. These are the lifting of a moratorium on home foreclosures, voting a new property tax through Parliament, agreeing on measures to cover next year’s fiscal gap, removing restrictions on mass dismissals and finalizing a plan for the future of Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS).

With regard to foreclosures, the government finds this a politically sensitive issue and is trying to agree on a formula with its lenders so that the ban is lifted but socially vulnerable homeowners are not evicted from their properties. “We are pressing so the cover is as wide as possible but not for those who are taking advantage of the moratorium,” said Development Costis Hatzidakis after meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samras on Saturday.

The new property tax is due to be submitted to Parliament next week, probably on Tuesday, and is likely to include other measures aimed at helping produce 1.2 billion euros of savings next year.

The government has yet to agree on how to settle the issue of mass dismissals. The troika insists it will not accept the current status quo, which requires the labor minister to approve such firings. PASOK, however, has reservations about further liberalization of the labor market.

With regard to EAS, sources suggested that Greece is expecting the troika to put forward a new proposal for the government to examine.

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