Greece’s key aid-talks deadline is end of June, EU official says

The euro area now views the end of June to be Greece’s main deadline to unlock aid payments as hopes of a deal before April 30 fade, a European Union official said.

Greece is unlikely to meet the end-April target for it to submit a list of measures to revamp its economy, agreed between euro-area finance ministers and the new Greek government in February, the EU official said in Brussels on Tuesday. Consequently, the 19-nation bloc’s finance chiefs meeting in Riga, Latvia, on Friday will merely take stock of the progress of negotiations rather than make any decisions, the official said.

Greece’s international creditors have been at loggerheads with the country’s authorities since September when talks over reforms needed to trigger a further bailout disbursement stalled. In response to an initial outline of economic reform plans, the euro area in February extended Greece’s bailout framework until June and said that authorities needed to present a draft list of reforms by the end of April to ensure preparatory work could take place in time.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the group of euro-area finance ministers, denied that any deadline had been moved. “We’ve said this program is extended by four months; that’s the firm deadline, so the program ends at the end of June,” Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister, told RTL television on Tuesday.

Two Months

While talks between Greece and its creditors have accelerated recently, the situation is two months behind where it should be, the EU official in Brussels said on the usual condition of anonymity.

“The intensity of the talks has increased in the past four to five days but not to the extent that they are ripe enough to come to a quick conclusion,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Vienna on Tuesday.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s move to order local governments to transfer funds to the country’s central bank would be welcomed by finance ministers and had been repeatedly requested by euro-area institutions, the EU official said.

The measure, which was questioned by local officials and criticized by the country’s leading opposition party, will be beneficial to Greece because it will centralize cash management, the official said.


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