‘Excellent news’ on Greece at Monday’s Eurogroup, Mario Centeno says

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

There was “excellent news” on Greece, whose government had made a “tremendous effort” to implement all the prior actions needed to complete the third review and shown “strong ownership” of the reforms, Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said after the Eurozone finance ministers’ meeting on Monday.

“The institutions reported that Greece has acted on all prior actions. It has been a tremendous effort by the Greek government, who is showing strong ownership of the programme,” he said in a press conference on the Eurogroup’s results. He noted that Greece had implemented all but two of the 110 prior actions required to complete the third review, and that both outstanding prior actions were outside of the control of the Greek government.

“I am confident that they can be cleared soon by the institutions,” he added, noting that the “ball is also now on our side [of the court].”

“National procedures will now be needed to approve the disbursement of 5.7 billion euros, once the institutions validate the completion of the pending prior actions,” he said.

Centeno also noted that it was time to move on to the next stage, pointing out that staff-level talks on easing Greece’s debt have already begun.

“The Eurogroup will now turn to the next stages of the ESM programme and ensure that the reform agenda will outlive programme period. As I promised in the last Eurogroup, the technical work on debt relief measures has already started,” he said.

In a post on his Twitter account, the Eurogroup president reiterated that there was good news on Greece while noting the need to continue reforms after the programme.

“Good news on #Greece. They acted on all agreed measures & #eurogroup is now turning to the final review of the #ESM programme. The reform agenda should outlive the programme,” he said.