Eurogroup president Dijsselbloem on Greece

Eurogroup president J. Dijsselbloem, in his remarks following the Eurogroup meeting yesterday said:

“Let me first make a couple of remarks on Greece, which was one of the countries discussed today. After successful implementation of the first set of milestones last month, today we took stock of the implementation of the second set of milestones. Which as you know are connected to the last sub-tranche of €1 bn. The design of the second set has been agreed by the EWG at the end of November. We called on the Greek authorities to implement these milestones as soon as possible and as agreed. The objective is to settle this by mid-December, so that we can focus on some of the major fiscal and structural reforms that are still open and need to be finalised for the first review early next year.

Recapitalisation of the four significant banks is almost finalised. We expect the last disbursement to be made tomorrow after approval of the ESM Board of Directors. Overall, a good success with significant involvement from private investors. The exercise will cost the programme less than €5½ bn, well below, as you know, initial estimates.”

Dijsselbloem referred in general to pension reforms as follows: “We had a thematic discussion on pensions and pension reforms, which are central to fiscal sustainability in the euro area. Top of the agenda in many member states that have already enacted considerable pension reforms. But pension expenditure is still one of the main challenges for long-term sustainability. Alongside addressing pension expenditures, we need a range of policies to ensure that retirement incomes remain sufficient in the future. There is also a strong link, which was mentioned by a number of colleagues, to reforms on the issue of long-term care, the costs of care, which are also linked to the aging of our populations. And also reforms of the labour market, making sure that also all employees can still participate in the labour market. We will come back to those issues, the issues of pension reforms, over the course of the next year. We’ve asked both the Commission to come forward with some sustainability scenarios, also scenarios with more downside risks, to check whether stresses in our systems, and we’ve asked EWG to do more work on also the possibility of benchmarking pension reforms. So we will come back to those issues in a second round next year.”

Photo: EU Newsroom