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Eurozone signs off on Greek reforms though ECB and IMF raise concerns over lack of detail

The Eurozone yesterday signed off on Greece’s list of reforms paving the way for the four month extension of the financial assistance programme. The Eurogroup said the measures are “sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review,” though more detailed reform plan will need to be agreed by the end of April.

While ‘the institutions’ signed off on the list, the IMF and ECB were notably less enthusiastic than the Commission. IMF Chief Christine Lagarde said in her letter to the Eurogroup that the list “is generally not very specific” and is “not conveying clear assurances” that the government will complete the current programme. Crucially, she added that discussions on completing the review of Greece’s programme – on which funding is contingent – “cannot be confined within the policy perimeters outlined” in the list. In his own letter, ECB President Mario Draghi added that he “assumes” the basis for concluding the review “will be the existing commitments in the current Memorandum of Understanding,” from which the reform list “differs” in a number of areas.

Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas said in an interview with Greek Star TV, “It is difficult to determine how the government can fulfil its promises, including the debt write-off, with this agreement.” Italy’s former Deputy Finance Minister Stefano Fassina – a member of the left wing of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party – told La Stampa that Greece needs to leave the euro “if it wants to survive”. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Charlie Hebdo that the Greek government has “killed the Troika” but work is still needed “to chase its spirit away and make its mentality disappear.”Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek newspaper Ethnos that the privatisations of electricity company PPC and power grid operator ADMIE won’t go ahead, despite both having already been put out to tender. The remarks appear to contradict the pledge not to stop sales that are already underway made by the Greek government in its reform list.

Meanwhile, officials said talks will begin on Greece’s funding gap, with Kathimerini reporting that the Greek government faces funding needs of €7.3bn in March alone. Germany’s Rheinische Post reports that, according to unnamed senior German officials, “It is absolutely clear that in the summer there will be a third programme”, which the paper suggests could amount to at least €20bn. The Bundestag is expected to approve the extension in a vote on Friday, while the lower house of the Dutch Parliament will wave it through tomorrow, though without a formal vote.

The Washington Post quotes Open Europe’s Raoul Ruparel as saying, “In the end, [the Greek reform] list seems very similar to what would have been implemented under the previous government, especially when it comes to areas such as pension reform.” Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta appeared on Italian business TV channel Class CNBC discussing the outcome of the negotiations between Greece and its Eurozone partners. Open Europe’s coverage of the situation in Greece featured on the Telegraph and the Guardian live blogs.

Sources: Open Europe Blog, Eurogroup statement, IMF letter, ECB letter, The Wall Street Journal, Kathimerini, Guardian Live Blog, The Washington Post, Telegraph Live Blog, Le Figaro, La Stampa, Rheinische Post, Die Welt, Reuters

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    Sources: De Telegraaf , Reuters

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