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24/02 – Greece postpones debt proposals

Most newspapers report that Greece was due to submit its plan of reforms to the EC, ECB and IMF by midnight yesterday, but that it won’t do so until this morning. All day Monday, the Greek government worked hard on producing a list of financial reforms that will satisfy the rest of the euro countries, writes Jyllands-Posten, specifying that the reform list is one of the conditions for the authorization of the four-month extension of Greece’s loan programme of €172 billion agreed upon last Friday.

In an interview with France 2 yesterday, Commissioner Moscovici reiterated that there was no question of writing down Greece’s debts, adding that the EC expects the plan to be “ambitious” but “financially realistic.” Some like Corriere della Sera explain that the government is facing difficulties in getting the parliament to approve the proposals, and is also having to deal with internal opposition to the proposals. On France 2’s evening news bulletin, François Beaudonnet actually reports that divisions within Syriza are already emerging. “Greece is like a tightrope walker and the show has never been so dangerous”, he comments.

According to Ta Nea and Rai Due, the Greek Finance Ministry has however already sent a five-page draft with its proposals for reforms to the “institutions”. The final list of reforms will then be submitted today officially to the euro area Finance Ministers in order to be approved by a Eurogroup teleconference this afternoon. The WSJE comments that both Greece and EU officials are playing down the missed deadline, saying the most important thing was for the measures to be laid out before the Tuesday afternoon conference.

Leaked reports claim the plans include €7 billion in revenue from fighting tax evasion, smuggling of cigarettes and petrol, corruption and inefficiency in the public administration. Yet The Daily Telegraph reports that European officials said that the list had run into reservations at its first hurdle with technocrats in Brussels, even before going to eurozone finance ministers. Alpha TV adds that EC spokesperson Mina Andreeva clarified that the list of the Greek reforms will take its final form by the end of April, after the deliberations with the institutions.

François Beaudonnet argues on France 2 that the permanent hesitations of the Greek government strengthen the already strong defiance between Tsipras and his European partners. El Mundo‘s Brussels correspondent Pablo R. Suanzes also believes that the real problem is not the timing to send Greece’s reform plans, but the fact that Mr Tsipras and Mr Varoufakis have wasted a huge amount of political capital in this negotiation, “angering and disappointing many euro ministers and top European officials whilst getting too little in return.”

On Spiegel.de, Wolfgang Münchau says there are ultimately only two ways out for the country: a severe debt cut eliminating almost all of its debt or a Grexit. Many German media actually share this view, and TVM Malta confirms that several analysts say that the non-approval of the list would re-ignite speculation on Greece’s membership of the Eurozone and its use of the euro.

In Il Messaggero, Giulio Sapelli comments that the accord taking shape between Greece and the Eurogroup marks the end of a “long cycle” in Europe’s economic life. Indeed, the days of the “diktat” of austerity are “over”. Greece’s planned reforms are very different from the “blood, sweat and tears” called for by Germany, and mark an “unprecedented change” in the relationship between the economic and political cycles in Europe. ©EuropeanUnion2015

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