Greek bailout: Eurozone finance ministers approve reform plans but Athens still faces 'lots of heavy lifting'

The agreement is subject to approval by member state parliaments

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to a list of reform measures proposed by Greece in order to get a four-month extension to its bailout - subject to approval by member state parliaments.

The decision was made in a one-hour telephone conference convened by Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem after the new leftist-led Athens government last night sent him a detailed list of reforms it plans to implement by July.

Both the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund called the Greek letter "sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review".

In a statement, the 19-nation Eurogroup said it had agreed to submit Greece's proposals for approval by member states, some of which will need parliamentary votes.

"We call on the Greek authorities to further develop and broaden the list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, in close coordination with the institutions in order to allow for a speedy and successful conclusion of the review," the statement said, referring to a review set to be concluded by the end of April.

Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission vice president for the Euro, said on Twitter:

The ministers reviewed a six-page document signed by Marxist finance minister Yanis Varoufakis that watered down campaign promises to halt privatisations, boost welfare spending and raise the minimum wage, vowing to consult partners before key reforms and to keep them budget-neutral.

However, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the plan was "not very specific" and much clearer assurances would be needed on key reforms of pensions, taxation and privatisation.

"In some areas like combating tax evasion and corruption I am encouraged by what appears to be a stronger resolve on the part of the new authorities in Athens," Lagarde wrote in a letter to Dijsselbloem.

"In quite a few areas, however, including perhaps the most important ones, the letter is not conveying clear assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged."


Meanwhile, Slovak finance minister Peter Kazimir tweeted: "Eurozone deal with Greece reached on Friday holds. Greeks have lots of heavy lifting to do until end-April. We all want to see numbers now."

Greece's bailout programme ends at the end of the month and without further support over the coming months, the country faces the possibility of going bankrupt, imposing capital controls and ditching the euro.

Additional reporting by agencies