Greece debt crisis live: The list of reforms that Greece must meet if it wants another bailout from Europe

The long list of reforms are huge and wide-ranging, and many have to be brought into law by 15 July

Doug Bolton
Sunday 12 July 2015 21:39 BST
Francois Holland, Jean-Claude Juncker and Alexis Tsipras confer before the Eurozone talks today
Francois Holland, Jean-Claude Juncker and Alexis Tsipras confer before the Eurozone talks today (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP)

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A list of major suggested reforms that Greece must accept and pass into law by Wednesday has been released by a journalist, during today's meetings by Eurozone officials.

The list includes such changes as "streamlining" Greece's notoriously complex VAT system, privatisation of major state-owned industries, and the de-politicisation of the Greek administration.

It was intially released by Tara Palmeri, a journalist for Politico. While the terms of the list are not final, they were the proposed reforms that came out of the Eurogroup meeting of Eurozone finance ministers earlier today.

The reforms are currently being debated and agreed upon by Eurozone leaders - they have been urged by the European Parliament President, Martin Schulz, to come to an agreement today.

According to journalists in Brussels, Tsipras has been told these reforms will essentially make Greece a 'ward' of the Eurozone. At the very least, they're bound to provoke further feelings of humiliation amongst the Greek people.

If these reforms are the ones they decide on, Greece could be in for a lot of changes. Here's what the proposed reforms are.

The leaders of Germany, France and Greece talk before today's Eurozone meeting

Streamlining VAT

Greece has a massive problem with collecting tax. It was reported earlier in the crisis that Greece only collects 10 per cent of the tax it is due - this isn't quite right, but it is true that the country has a massive 'shadow economy', where money is earned and spent while taxes are avoided.

VAT varies across Greece - it's lower on the Greek islands, and varies depending on the goods in question. It's also avoided quite a lot. By simplifying the VAT system, it is hoped that Greece could actually collect more of the tax it is due, thereby getting more money and improving its financial situation. This is one of the measures that would need to be accepted and passed by this Wednesday, 15 July.

Broadening the Tax base

Essentially, this means getting more people paying tax, making more money for the government. This is another measure that would have to be approved by the Greek parliament by 15 July.

The adoption of a Code of Civil Procedure

This is intended to save money currently spent in the judicial system - by bringing in a major overhaul of the currently convoluted civil justice system, the Eurogroup hopes that the judicial process could be accelerated and costs brought down. Again, this one needs to be put into legislation by 15 July.

Protests and demonstrations continue in Greece, even after the referendum

Sustainability of pension system

Greece's pension system is very generous, and allows Greeks to retire a comparatively young age - although over the last few years, the age has been raised.

The current retirement age is 65, but professions deemed 'arduous and dangerous' - a list that once included hairdressers and TV presenters (but doesn't any more) meant that women could retire at 50, and men at 55.

For years Greek pensioners retired early and and received a lot of money - the crisis, that has been mounting over the last few years, made it clear that the old system was unsustainable, and it has been cut recently.

The Eurogroup is proposing further 'sustainability' measures for Greece, which could include cuts or a raise of the retirement age, something Greece has already pledged.

This measure would have to be legislated by 15 July.

Safeguarding of legal independence for Greece's statistics office

In recent years, European officials have expressed concerns over the reliability of Greece's statistics body, concerned that numbers were inaccurate.

It has also been hit with opposing accusations by the Greek government - that it reported inaccurate statistics in order to justify the unpopular bailout terms proposed by Greece's creditors.

In an effort to improve the stability and reliability of this important body, this suggestion, if adopted, would ensure that the official statistics office stays independent of internal or external political pressures.

This is an important measure to the Eurogroup, and needs to be approved by 15 July.

Privatise the national grid, and other market reforms

The Greek government controls the electricity transmission grid, and has majority control of the country's biggest electric power company.

By privatising this huge and valuable asset, the Eurogroup hopes that Greece will be able to raise a significant amount of money.

According to the document, this could be avoided, if other measures that have an equivalent affect on competition could be formulated.

Also proposed are changes in current trading practices, which regulate Sunday trading and pharmacy ownership, amongst other things.

This is naturally a much bigger and more long-term project, and will only have to be approved by parliament and implemented within a clear timetable.

Take decisive action on non-performing loans

Greek banks are owed a lot of money by people who aren't paying their loans back - hence the shortages and problems that they've been facing lately.

'Decisive action' is a very vague way of describing what would amount to a huge and massive reform - but if people start paying the banks back for their loans, it would certainly help their recovery. Just how this can be ensured is another question entirely.

Again, this one must be accepted and implemented at some point in the future beyond 15 July.

De-politicise the Greek administration

Despite Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's recent 'backflip' on his attitude to austerity, Syriza have certainly ruffled feathers in Europe since they won the election.

It's hoped by the Eurogroup that the administration of Greece's key services and departments will be de-politicised, and essentially kept free of those who want to scupper any tough bailout plans.

This is a big task, and must take place within a timetable.

Return of the Troika to Athens

This would involve the return of auditors from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Earlier in the year, they were closely supervising goings-on in Athens. They were popular hate figures in Greece, and have been in-and-out of the country in the last few months.

This condition would mean inspectors would return to Greece to monitor the economy, and how well the reforms are being observed. This measure, sure to provoke anger within Greece, does not need to be agreed by 15 July.

And what is still to be decided...

In the Eurogroup's document of proposals, some recommendations are in square brackets - this means that Eurogroup ministers couldn't agree on these points, so they've been left up to the nations' leaders to be decided.

Full implementations of automatic spending cuts

This one's self-explanatory - the government must make proposed cuts to its spending without negotations. These would come into play if Greece's targets are not met, subject to approval from Europe's institutions. If agreed upon by the leaders, this would have to be accepted by 15 July.

Transfer of Greek assets to Luxembourg

This proposal would see Greek assets totalling €50 billion being transferred to a foreign fund like the Institution for Growth in Luxembourg. In a process led by Greek authorities, with European officials watching over them, these assets would be privatised over time in an effort to raise funds.

This is a fairly stunning proposal, and one that would be bound to provoke humiliation and anger in Greece.

Longer repayment periods

If the other terms are met quickly and efficiently, Europe could offer Greece some concessions, like longer repayment or grace periods. However, it said that debt 'haircuts' will not be permitted.

A time-out from Europe?

If no agreement is reached tonight, it's possible that Greece could be offered "swift negotiations" on a time-out from the Eurozone, with "possible debt restructuring". This could mean a temporary Grexit, possibly with the condition that Greece can enter again once things are running more smoothly.

Ensure independence of privatisation body TAIPED

Since the list of demands involves privatisation of a massive industry, it's important to the Eurogroup that the national body in charge of privatisation isn't politically controlled - the left-wing Syriza party, who in the past have shown their opposition to privatisation, would be keen to stop such a move. This does not have to be agreed upon in Greece by 15 July, but is an important term.

Some of these reforms have to be voted on and passed into law by the Greek Parliament by Wednesday. These would be major, far-reaching and highly controversial laws - the idea of them being passed in 72 hours seems almost impossible.

And even if they are passed without a hitch, this would only open doors to further discussions about emergency financial assistance for Greece - it's not a case of 'pass these laws for a bailout'.

Talks continue, but even if a solid deal along these lines is met, it will hardly be great news for Greece.

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