Centeno says Eurogroup reached ‘political agreement’ for Greece

Mario Centeno, Portugal's Finance Minister and newly elected President of the Eurogroup, holds a news conference at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The Eurogroup came to a “political agreement” on Greece’s third program review during its meeting, the group’s new chief, Mario Centeno said during a press conference in Brussels on Monday.

According to Centeno, the Eurozone finance ministers welcomed the completion of almost all prior actions by the Greek authorities and asked the EuroWorking group to inspect the completion of the pending actions which will be implemented in the “coming weeks”.

He said this decision “reflects the enormous efforts and excellent cooperation between the Greek authorities and the institutions”.

Centeno said the next bailout tranche for Greece will reach 6.7 billion euros, which the country will use to repay its debt and State arrears and create the liquidity cushion which will be needed to regain full access to the markets.

He also said technical talks will begin on debt relief and the mechanism to link debt repayment in the future to economic growth in Greece and noted the need to maintain high primary surpluses and continue reforms so that the country can regain investor confidence.

Asked on the next steps, Centeno said the Greek government will have to form its own comprehensive growth strategy for the coming years and reiterated the need for ownership of the reforms even after the bailout program ends.

Speaking in the same press conference, the head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Klaus Regling said this growth strategy could contribute to the efforts for “convergence” between the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund in terms of analyzing the sustainability of Greek debt.

On his side, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, said the important efforts of the Greek authorities were recognized by everyone, “even those who were skeptical in the past” and noted the “change of climate” concerning Greece.

Moscovici said 2018 will be a decisive year for Greece as it will exit from a long period of economic assistance which included very tough measures and unprecedented reforms that will make the economy more resilient.