EU officials remind Greece of commitments, see no ‘clean exit’

EU officials remind Greece of commitments, see no ‘clean exit’

European officials underlined on Tuesday that Greece must honor its commitments to creditors, indicating that the country will remain bound by the terms of its bailout even after that expires in August. 

In comments at an event organized by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, European Commission official Declan Costello remarked that the end of Greece’s third international bailout does not signal a “clean exit” as the country must continue to implement reforms to deal with deeply rooted structural problems. 

Meanwhile, asked about the possibility of the suspension of demands by the International Monetary Fund for pension cuts in 2019 on the condition that the IMF leaves the program, a senior European official noted that Greece signed a deal with European creditors as well as the Fund and its terms should be respected. 

Representatives of Greece’s creditors indicated on Tuesday that they expected all agreed-to reforms to be enforced in the coming weeks in two multi-bills, one before Christmas, and one in January, in line with a staff-level agreement with Greece. 

The comments came after the government withdrew a bill foreseeing stricter regulations for the operation of unions, particularly in regard to how they call strikes, late on Monday. 

The Labor Ministry withdrew the bill as it apparently feared a backlash but also due to the absence of coalition MPs in Parliament on Monday. Around 20 lawmakers were on Corfu for a growth summit. 

The amendment, which was agreed with bailout monitors over the weekend, stipulates that unions must obtain a greater number of votes from their members to call a strike.

It foresees at least half of union members having to back strike action compared to as little as one-fifth that is currently the case.

Members of the Communist Party-affiliated union PAME protested the changes in Athens on Tuesday, clashing with police who fired tear gas to disperse them. 

Meanwhile conservative opposition New Democracy called on the government to resubmit the bill and approve it, saying it would support the reform.

“The whole back and forth with the amendment for the trade union law shows the reluctance of the government to approve even the most self-evident reforms,” ND’s shadow labor minister Yiannis Vroutsis said.