Eurozone officials refused to grant further €1 billion of debt relief to Greece after the government failed to implement reforms that were required under the EU’s bailout programme that came to an end in 2018.
EU officials said, specifically, that Athens had yet to follow through on a series of deliverables that the Greek government had agreed to in June of last year. The main obstacle to the disbursement remains Greece’s insolvency law, one of the three remaining reforms that Greece has to undertake.
Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said Greece’s 10-year bond is “another milestone in the country’s return to normal,” and that the 3.5% surplus target is on track to be achieved for the fourth consecutive time. “The government’s commitment to sound finances has outlived the programme,” added Centeno, who took time to point out that Greece has already completed or is on track to complete several key reforms.
“Greece continues to make good progress,” said the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, naming, in particular, the Greek budget plan, the reform of the health care system, and the number of privatisations complete. Regarding the Greek insolvency law, Moscovici said “discussions continue in a very positive and constructive manner. We want to see a solution to protect the most vulnerable without affecting the banks restructuring ability”.
Though the Greek government has still failed to complete housing insolvency rules that have raised fears in Greece for families threatened with foreclosure on their homes, the Eurozone ministers played down any concerns that their decision to delay the disbursement was in any way a sign that the situation was returning to the dark days of the height of the debt crisis several years ago by saying they believe that it is “absolutely feasible” to complete all of the necessary procedures by the next Eurogroup on 25 March.
“Our discussions I think showed we are maintaining very positive momentum. We will be reaching the agreement the next coming weeks, points need to be agreed,” said Moscovici.