The chair of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers said on Tuesday that European lenders should be “realistic” in the fiscal targets they set for Greece after 2018, when a programme of financial aid will end.
“We need to be realistic,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the economic affairs committee of the European Parliament, saying that the International Monetary Fund has a point when it says “running a primary surplus of 3.5 percent for a very long time is a huge thing to ask”.
Eurogroup president expressed the hope that a comprehensive agreement with Greece on the second programme review can be achieved by the next Eurogroup meeting on December 5. He also said that Greece needs to proceed with the necessary structural reforms. The Eurogroup chief said that the aim is for the IMF to continue participating in the Greek programme.
Dijsselbloem’s remarks come a few days before a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Dec. 5, when ministers are set to decide for how long Greece should maintain a primary budget surplus – which excludes debt servicing costs – of 3.5 percent after 2018, when its current programme of financial aid expires.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)