LUXEMBOURG Oct 10 The European Commission gave
Greece a positive review of its reforms on Monday, paving the
way for the disbursement by the euro zone of a 2.8 billion euro
Germany, which habitually takes a hard line, remained
sceptical, suggesting that not all required reforms were carried
To get the money, Greece was supposed to take 15 reform
actions, called milestones, the last of which were completed
over the weekend. The institutions assessing the reforms are the
European Commission, the European Central Bank, the euro zone
bailout fund ESM and the International Monetary Fund.
"We are going to give an assessment saying the 15
milestones, all of them, are now completed," European
Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici
told reporters on entering a meeting of euro zone finance
ministers in Luxembourg.
"This should normally open the way to the disbursement of
the remaining 2.8 billion euros. As often in the Greek issue,
things are done a bit at the last minute, but they are done,"
But EU officials said that some countries, especially
Germany, argued Greece still needed some more work to complete
the milestones, mostly regarding making the privatisation fund
fully operational. This could delay a decision on the full
disbursement of the 2.8 billion euro tranche, the last of the
so-called first review of Greece's aid programme.
Apart from paying out the money, much of which will go to
pay Greek government arrears, the completion of the 15 reforms
means that Greece will be able to start the next stage of the
reform process, called the second review, which is a condition
for a start of talks on the scope of Greek debt relief.
If Athens completes all the actions from the second reform
review by the end of the year, it could begin negotiations on
the terms of medium- to long-term debt relief from the euro zone
-- an important political victory for the government.
Euro zone finance ministers agreed in May to start
discussing the scope of such debt relief, to be delivered only
in 2018, once a new debt sustainability analysis for Greece is
prepared by the IMF in December.
"If we have the second review completed, then before the end
of the year it would mean the Greeks have met their
responsibilities and the euro zone must also take their
responsibilities and be available for a discussion on debt,"
Moscovici told Reuters on Saturday.
Euro zone ministers, who are now the main creditors of
Greece after the country restructured privately-owned debt in
2012, agreed in May that the guiding principle for debt relief,
once all reforms are delivered, would be to cap Greece's gross
financing needs at 15 percent of GDP in the medium term and at
below 20 percent in the long run.
(Writing By Jan Strupczewski Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)