Staff-level agreement could be achieved before year end, says senior EU official

A staff-level agreement (SLA) could be achieved between the institutions and the Greek government before the end of the year and ahead of the third review, a senior EU official told journalists in Brussels on Tuesday, in a briefing on the Eurogroup meeting on November 6.

He said the institutions will brief Eurozone’s finance ministers on the progress made during the first phase of talks in Athens last week.

“The recommendations are encouraging and the working spirit positive,” the official said but added that Greek authorities still have a “huge amount of work” to implement, as they need to complete 95 pending prior actions out of a total of 113 for this review.

Asked if it possible to clench a deal before the Eurogroup on December 4, the official said it is too soon to say, adding that “technically” it is possible.

“I am optimistic that an SLA can be reached before the end of the year on the basis of implementing a significant number of prerequisites,” he said and noted that the third review will be completed later as the implementation of some prior actions often has “legal or administrational difficulties”.

Apart from Greece, the Eurogroup will hear a presentation by the Chair of the European Central Bank’s Supervisory Board, Danièle Nouy, on ECB banking supervision activities since last April. The Board’s activities are presented at the Eurogroup biannually.

The Chair of the Single Resolution Board, Elke König, will also inform the Eurogroup about the Board’s activities over the past months.

Ministers are also expected to exchange national practices related to public investment in human capital, and more concretely, efficient spending on education systems. The Commission has made available a note containing its analysis of this subject.

The discussion is linked to the common principles to promote investment, on which agreement was reached by the Eurogroup in April 2017. According to one of these principles, the euro area needs to ensure high-quality public investment to boost knowledge-intensive and sustainable growth.