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10th Dec 2022

Greece tables reforms, awaits eurozone approval

  • Alexis Tsipras has climbed down from campaign promises (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The Greek government late Monday evening (23 February) submitted a list of reforms demanded by eurozone finance ministers in order to approve a four-month extension of the Greek bailout.

Earlier in the evening, Athens said it would need another day to send in the list, but in the end it stuck to the Monday midnight deadline.

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"List of reform measures of Greek government received on time," tweeted EU commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, himself a Greek national.

The reforms include measures to tackle corruption, tax evasion, and tobacco and fuel smuggling. They also contain proposals for €60 million worth of free electricity for poor people and a €750 million meal-subsidy programme, Reuters reports.

Experts from the three "institutions" (formerly known as the "troika") - the EU commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - will Tuesday examine the proposals and communicate their verdict to the head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, is to appear in the European Parliament Tuesday morning to brief MEPs on the matter.

He will then hold a conference call later in the day with the other 18 eurozone finance ministers, who have to give a green light so that national parliaments can approve the extension before the bailout expires, on 28 February.

According to Handelsblatt, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has already submitted a request to the Bundestag to approve the extension.

"Given the commitments made by Greece and the Eurogroup agreement, the federal government approves the requested extension," reads the letter.

Schaeuble's request is conditional on the Greek government submitting a reforms list, which is approved by the three institutions.

But the outlook appears positive. Schaeuble's spokesman Martin Jaeger on Monday said he expects the Greek plan to be "coherent and plausible".

Germany last week rejected any Greek plans that were not in line with its expectations, forcing the newly-elected government of Alexis Tsipras to climb down from earlier pledges to raise the minimum wage and to undo some of the austerity measures adopted by the previous government.

Tsipras has declared victory after last week's Eurogroup but keeping his far-left Syriza party under control is likely to prove difficult.

A Syriza veteran has already voiced criticism of the deal, arguing that all that Tsipras managed to achieve was cosmetic or linguistic changes.

"Renaming the troika as 'institutions', the bailout as an 'agreement' and creditors as 'partners' ... does not change the previous situation," Syriza MEP Manolis Glezos wrote on his blog.

"I apologise to the Greek people because I took part in this illusion. Let's react before it is too late," he added.

Tsipras' spokesman said that Glezos is "someone whom we will never cease to honour," but that his comments were "misguided and wrong".

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