European officials are concerned that not enough preparation work is being done to pave the way for Greece to submit six reform proposals to Monday’s Eurogroup and then secure part of the 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout loans.
There was only a cursory discussion of Greece’s reform proposals at Wednesday’s Euro Working Group. Sources in Brussels said that no specific suggestions were put forward during the meeting of technical staff preparing for Monday’s gathering of eurozone finance ministers.
The Finance Ministry also denied on Thursday that there are any plans for technical teams from Greece’s lenders to travel to Athens to check on the progress of the drafting of the reforms and the course of the budget so far this year. A European official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that there had been discussions about the technocrats visiting next week but that the Greek government had declined the proposal.
Officials in Brussels fear that without the appropriate technical work, eurozone finance ministers will not approve the release of any further loans. “If they don’t talk to the technical teams no politician in the EU is ever going to listen,” a European official told Kathimerini’s Brussels correspondent Eleni Varvitsioti.
The official added that the Greek government needs to “change its approach” in order for cooperation with its lenders to progress more smoothly.
The head of the European Stability Mechanism, Klaus Regling, expressed concern on Thursday in an interview with Handelsblatt newspaper that the drop in Greek tax revenues over the last few months may derail plans to achieve a primary surplus this year.
Revenues could be as much as 2 billion euros off target by the end of February, with the goal of achieving even a reduced primary surplus of 1.5 percent of gross domestic product being out of reach. Last year’s primary surplus came in at 0.6 percent of GDP against a target of 1.5 after a decline in revenues at the end of the year.