Finance ministers from 19 EU Member States have offered their endorsement for the disbursement of new loans to Greece after it completed the third review of the EU’s rescue programme during this month’s Eurogroup meeting.
According to the Eurogroup’s Portuguese president, Mário Centeno, the progress “shows Greece’s strong commitment to the program and the continuation of its reforms.”
After receiving the Eurogroup’s green light, the ESM Board is expected to approve the disbursement of €5.7 billion in the second half of March, following the completion of proceedings in the Member States’ national parliaments.
“We are now entering the final stage of the program and I am convinced that Greece will fulfil all of the prerequisites for the successful completion of the programme” added Centeno, who also suggested that this last step is the final hurdle before any further debt relief will be offered. On this front, the Eurogroup has been informed that the technical work on the French debt-to-GDP mechanism “is progressing well,” according to Centeno.
The European Commissioner for Finance Pierre Moscovici added that “we are 100 days out before the Eurogroup on June 21”, where there should be a package deal for Greece. “We must not waste time and use the current momentum that we have to keep pushing forward,” who added, “there must be a clear commitment from all sides…Progress has been made, but the work needs to continue.”
On the future support framework for Greece, Moscovici reiterated that Athens has to return to a semblance of balance that doesn’t include giving the impression that it has to undergo another hard period.
“I have said this for months, the goal for Greece is to become a normal country and the long painful period of the program to be behind us,” said Moscovici, “the goal must be clear and on June 21 we need to make final decisions. I am optimistic we will.”
The ESM’s Klaus Regling said the beginning of the fourth review of negotiations has been positive but said that the timetable is tight with 88 conditions still to be met by Athens before August when the programme expires.
Regling also added that in addition to the €5.7 billion, a separate €1 billion is to be disbursed for the repayment of public arrears and will only be provided if the current process continues at the same pace, along with the electronic auctions, one of the two last pair actions that were completed during this third review.