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Greece expects unlocking of €2 billion in aid

Greece expects the unlocking of €2 billion in aid, after having voted a second set of reforms.

The European media report on the evolution of the negotiations between Greece and its creditors. The Greek parliament voted a second set of reforms, but the EU hesitates whether to unlock an additional €2 billion. The Eurogroup could settle this issue during today’s Eurogroup meeting, even though an agreement should be difficult to reach. Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici is now less optimistic than he was last week, when he declared that Greece had entered a “good momentum”.

French daily Les Echos writes on Monday that several measures expected by Brussels are missing, as the foreclosure of the primary residences of indebted households and the VAT rate on private school fees remain under discussion. However, the Greek Parliament already passed several laws to improve the calculation of pensions, to force Greece to respect European laws on energy efficiency, to eliminate obstacles to the privatisation of the country’s greatest port and to eliminate tax advantages for farmers.

In Brussels, experts of the euro working group took the weekend to gauge Athens’s measure and ascertain whether they will suffice. Several inconclusive phone calls were held this weekend. Estonian daily Äripäev reports that this weekend’s discussions focused on Greece’s bad loans. The creditors would like the evictions of home owners who cannot pay their loans to be harsher than the Greek government agrees to. The Greek media report that while Europe asks Greece to adopt very harsh measures, nothing is done to help the country deal with the refugee crisis.

Dutch daily Financieele Dagblad writes that this issue is crucial, as Athens insists on the fact that the country cannot accept a tightening of rules regarding the eviction of indebted households and at the same time provide accommodation for 50,000 refugees. In an interview with Real News, Commissioner Moscovici raised the alarm over the negotiations between the Greek government and the institutions’ representatives. He warned that time is running out, asking for solid and specific agreements on all the big open issues in the coming days. Mr Moscovici added that Athens should not expect a decision on the next tranche to be taken during the Eurogroup’s meeting on Monday.

Werner Mussler writes in FAZ that it is “unlikely” that the loan payments of the euro crisis fund ESM to Greece will be released this month despite new reform decisions in the parliament in Athens. He adds that for the Eurogroup, the next tranche can only be paid if Greece passes the law on compulsory auctions of real estate, a precondition for the restructuring of the banking system.

For his part, Pascal Saint-Amans, director of tax policy at the OECD, warned the country cannot survive without rooting out rampant tax evasion, The Daily Telegraph reports. Another important issue is the solvency of Greek banks. In an interview with Real News, Greek Government Vice-President Giannis Dragasakis states that the conditions for the abolition of capital controls will be created in the first months of 2016. He noted that the government’s target is for Greece to return to the markets within 2016 or at the beginning of 2017, and admits that the recapitalisation of Greek banks will not solve the liquidity problem. International New York Times reports that meanwhile, thousands of Greeks are expected to take part in the first general strike this year on Thursday.




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