Dijsselbloem and Moscovici on the Greek programme

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

“We discussed the state of play, in particular of course of the first review, what the next steps could be. The outcome of that is that the mission chiefs will return to Athens. I’m not sure when exactly, perhaps already tomorrow. There is enough common ground, enough preparation has been done for their mission to continue, hopefully to work towards a successful completion. We realise that if we want to complete, fully comply to what has been agreed this summer, more work will have to be done. So the first outcome of the Eurogroup today is that the mission chiefs will return to Athens, the second one is that we stressed that more work needs to be done, more effort needs to be put in for that to be a good outcome. There are still fiscal gaps to be filled and some of the reforms will have to be deepened.

So we called on both the institutions but specifically also on the Greek government to deliver that extra effort. On their return, which of course we don’t know when that will be, we will have to take a political decision which also concerns the issue of debt and debt management, debt relief. As you know, we have a longstanding promise that if the Greek government fulfils its commitments in the programme and delivers a primary surplus, we will do what is necessary to make the annual debt surplus manageable, and that today also in Eurogroup we have realised and made explicit that that discussion is going to be on our table in the near future. So we will seriously try to bring those work strands together in the coming months. So that’s where we are on Greece and work will continue. We have a joint interest to do it as quickly as possible.”

EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said: “Regarding Greece, I am very pleased with today’s agreement that will allow institutions’ head representatives to return to Athens tomorrow to continue discussions on the review of the programme. The institutions have worked hard in recent weeks – among themselves and with the Greek authorities – to prepare this return.

These efforts enabled this positive decision. Obviously, we must now continue working on several projects. I will mention five:

– the establishment of privatization and investment funds;

– the reform of the income tax;

– pension reform;

– the creation of the independent agency revenue;

– and management of non-performing loans.

As regards budget is concerned, the Eurogroup confirmed the importance of achieving the primary surplus for 2018, i.e. 3.5% of GDP. We will now work together to reach agreement on measures that will achieve this goal.

We believe that a good agreement can be reached on all these points; I believe and hope that this agreement can be reached as soon as possible. This is, I believe, in the interests of all – especially when one takes into account the migratory situation that puts, too, unprecedented pressure on Greece and for which the European Council is discussing operational responses.”