While the Greek government is making desperate efforts to have the additional austerity measures of further pension cuts and broader tax-free basis implemented in 2019 and 2020, the known ‘powers’ take to their favorite hobby: sabotage, boycott, hit and run and new obstacles. A day before the crucial Eurogroup meeting in Malta.
Citing “sources” in Brussels, Athens News Agency reports that German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble encourages the International Monetary Fund to demand that pension cuts and broader tax-free basis be implemented already in 2018, that is before the third bailout program for Greece expires in summer 2018.
Brussels – that is the European Commission – is reportedly making intensive effort to overcome the new obstacles that emerged yesterday [Wednesday] and threaten the possibility to reach an agreement on Friday.
According to the well-informed sources of the ANA, “the IMF has brought up the issue of the credibility of the fiscal cutter for 2018 and discusses the need for early implementation of the pension cuts and the tax-free basis.”
One of the ANA sources pointed at Berlin as the mastermind behind the new requirements put on the table by the IMF, which wants to open again the issue of achieving the target of a primary surplus of 3.5% in 2018.
As result, it is possible that the German Finance Minister will put on the table of tomorrow’s Eurogroup the early implementation of these two austerity measures.
The German side has allegedly expressed dissatisfaction over Greece’s change of attitude in recent days. The sources in Brussels have described the IMF’s stance since the beginning of the week as “‘strange” and noted that in the past Greece had also reopened negotiation chapters that were previously considered as agreed upon.
Another EU official told ANA, “there is still hope for Friday.”
Eurogroup head, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, had originally intended to be able to present to finance ministers in Valletta, a “political agreement in principle” which will open the way for the return of institutions in Athens and the completion of the second review at technical level.
Indeed there could be some truth to this claims, as IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, lanced a new round of argument with Schaeuble beginning of the week. It seemed that Lagarde’s statement “I am not aligning myself with Minister Schaeuble who says that Greece’s problem is not debt but productivity,” came out of the blue because the IMF had recently refrained from repeating its old ‘Debt is not sustainable” position.
Tsipras: Games of Delay End Here
Speaking at the inauguration of the Tempi tunnels Thursday morning, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said for one more time that the games with review delays are over.
“The games of delays end here, the endless discussions and delays finish in April,” the Prime minister said.
“We are determined to not allow anyone to play games against the Greek economy. The conclusion of the review is close, whether some want it or not,” he stressed adding “We are determined to get the country out of crisis and nobody will stop us.”
Schaeuble: I Am Optimistic About The Deal
On his part, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble trolled Greece and said he was optimistic about second review deal. “Soon” he said making clear there would be no deal at the Eurogroup meeting tomorrow, Friday.
After this statement, I suppose Schaeuble returned to his office to prepare instructions for Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The meeting between the two finance ministers is scheduled for 6:00 pm Thursday, in Berlin.
It is not the first time I hear about this proposal. I remember to have read and maybe already reported in a post that “the additional measures to be implemented already beginning of 2018.” it must have been somewhere in February. I cannot reckon though whether the proposal was by the IMF or Berlin.