Greece and representatives from its creditors have reached an initial technical agreement on the country’s reform progress under its fourth and final bailout review after a week of marathon sessions that was capped by a statement late on May 19 by Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos who declared, “The staff-level agreement is closed. We have an agreement on all issues.”
The move is a key milestone for Athens as it moves to exit the programme and strike a deal on debt relief. The staff-level agreement allows policymakers to design a framework for Greece’s post-programme monitoring and to determine what sort commitments will be attached to Greece’s debt relief.
“A staff-level agreement has been reached on a package of reforms that are required for the successful completion of the 4th review of the European Stability Mechanism programme. This agreement will be presented to the Eurogroup on May 24,” the European institutions involved in the talks said in an official statement. “The Greek authorities hope to implement these measures as swiftly as possible in advance of the Eurogroup meeting on June 21. To this end, intensive exchanges between the institutions and the Greek authorities will continue in the coming weeks.”
Athens is hoping to emerge from the bailout without requesting extra financial aid after receiving €260 billion in emergency loans since 2010 to keep the country afloat in exchange for austerity measures and reforms that have grown increasingly unpopular with many Greeks. The government hopes that the last review can be closed in time for the end of its third bailout in August as Greek officials want to reach a deal with its European and IMF lenders before July on the further debt relief that will be implemented in the post-bailout period.
European Commission Vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said the news that the staff-level agreements had been reached and would be discussed the Eurogroup on May 24 was “a good signal with a view towards preparing for Greece’s return to the markets.” That sentiment was also shared by Eurogroup President Mário Centeno, who added, “One step closer to a successful ESM programme conclusion. Looking forward to our discussions in the Eurogroup on Thursday.”