Friday

18th Aug 2017

EU and IMF in effort to unblock Greek bailout talks

  • Germany's Schaeuble (l), IMF's Lagarde (c) and Netherlands' Dijssoelbloem (r), with Ireland's Noonan. The EU and the IMF are still at odds on Greek debt. (Photo: Council of the EU)

Finance ministers from the main eurozone countries are expected to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiators on Friday (25 November) in an effort to reach an agreement on the Greek bailout early December.

The meeting, as reported by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday, will take place in Berlin and will involve ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Netherlands, IMF officials as well as officials from the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The aim of the talks will be to find a common position ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on 5 December when eurozone finance ministers aim to close the second review of the Greek bailout programme, in order to unblock a new tranche of aid to Athens.

Discussions on the review in Athens between Greece and experts from the creditor institutions were suspended on Monday and will continue at a technical level by teleconference. They are blocked on the issues of labour market reform and the fiscal targets for Greece.

Creditors in particular oppose Greek plans to reintroduce collective bargaining, a mechanism to set minimum wages and negotiate lay offs. They also diverge on the level of the budgetary surplus Greece should reach from 2018, or on the measures to be taken to reach it.

"Had it been the Europeans, we'd have had an agreement by now," a Greek government source said on Tuesday, pointing at divergences between European creditors and the IMF.

Europeans say that Greece can reach a 3.5 percent surplus from 2018 with the measures already agreed. The IMF says the target is too high, or that additional measures must be taken to reach it.

"Sometimes it gets too political," the source said, adding that he hoped Greece and its creditors would be able to conclude the review "quickly", in time for the 5 December Eurogroup meeting.

Early November, the European Commission vice-president for the euro, Valdis Dombrovskis, said Greece "was broadly on track" to meet the bailout requirements.

"The programme is working for the first time," the Greek official pointed out. "We would find it very strange if we had a deadlock."

He said "the problem would be to have delays again" and warned that they would jeopardise the country's stability and investors' trust.

Beyond the surplus discussions and the review, the main stake of the meeting will be to secure the IMF's participation to the programme after the end of the year.

The fund said it would stay on board if it considered Greek debt sustainable in the long term. It has called for debt relief measures.

The European institutions say Greek debt is sustainable, and under German pressure have so far refused to commit to long-term debt relief.

Friday's Berlin meeting is expected to bridge differences and lay the ground for the "complete package" required by the IMF: a second review that includes fiscal target and adequate measures so to ensure debt sustainability.

The meeting will be held without Greek representatives, but authorities in Athens insist that the onus is on the IMF and Germany.

"We didn't ask the IMF to be in the programme. It's up to them to decide whether they like it or not," the Greek source said, adding that it was "not our job to have a back-up plan" for the review.

"We're optimistic that everybody will stick to what has been agreed [in 2015]," he said.

"We understand internal political situations but we cannot wait for the next elections in Germany," he added, referring to Germany's opposition to debt relief.

EU and IMF agree debt relief for Greece

Greece's creditors will take measures to reduce the cost of debt repayment and for the first time say debt could be reduced in the future. They also decided a €10-billion new loan.

Watchdog urges creation of EU bad bank

EU growth is being held back by more than €1 trillion of bad loans, its banking regulator said, comparing the eurozone to 1990s Japan.

EU agrees on debt measures for Greece

Measures to reduce the cost of Greek debt will be implemented immediately, but eurozone finance ministers said more action will have to be taken for a new agreement on the bailout programme.

Opinion

Lenders seek to undermine Greek workers' rights

As focus turns to negotiations between Greece and lenders over a new loan package, both the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund seem determined to press for further reforms, undermining trade unions, workers' rights, and collective bargaining agreements.

Airbnb too 'different' to pay EU tax

US home rental firm said its “model is unique” because most of the money stays in pockets of local people, as France and Germany prepare EU tax crackdown.

EU cautious with German diesel plan

The European Commission welcomed the German carmakers' pledge to update software in diesel cars, but is waiting for details on how emissions will be reduced.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides

Latest News

  1. UK’s childhood obesity strategy, a blueprint for EU countries?
  2. Death toll rising from Barcelona attack
  3. Austrian soldiers to stop migrants from Italy
  4. Chinese road to riches or road to ruin?
  5. UK seeks 'unprecedented' Irish border deal
  6. Merkel: No EU sanctions on migrant quota rebels
  7. UK keen to keep old EU customs deal
  8. Italy backs Libya as NGOs chased out of Mediterranean