European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici made it clear Tuesday that the Greek government has until Monday to settle four outstanding issues if it is to receive the next 2 billion euros from its third bailout package.
Speaking after talks with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on the first of his two days in Athens, Moscovici indicated that Athens would need to tie up the loose ends by the time eurozone finance ministers convene for their next meeting at the beginning of next week.
“I can confirm three or four issues are still on the table,” Moscovici said. “We are confident that in the spirit of a compromise the Eurogroup meeting on Monday will be a success.”
“We are not considering the case of failure, we are looking only for success,” he added.
Sources told Kathimerini that the four issues Moscovici was referring to are changes to the 100-installment payment plan for tax and social security debtors, the rules on home foreclosures, the level of minimum prices for generic drugs and the equivalent fiscal measures that will replace the abandoned plan to impose a 23 percent value-added tax on private education.
The issue of foreclosures is thought to have topped the agenda during Moscovici’s talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ahead of his meeting with Tsakalotos. According to sources close to the Greek leader, he stressed the need to ensure that the country’s social cohesion would not be disrupted by relaxing the rules on home repossessions.
Currently, primary residences with a taxable value of 300,000 euros are protected from bank repossession but the institutions want this to drop to a market value of 120,000 euros and only for owners living below the poverty threshold to be protected from losing their homes.
Moscovici indicated that if there is an agreement on the disbursement of the next sub-tranche on Monday then Greece will have to pass some further measures before it can pass the first review of the current bailout by its lenders. After that, the discussion about debt relief can begin, the commissioner suggested.
Tsakalotos said that there is a team at the Finance Ministry working on Greece’s proposals for debt relief and he hopes the discussion with the institutions about this issue will begin before Christmas.