Luxembourg/Athens (dpa) – Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned Monday that Greece needs to find a “credible” way out of its international bailout, amid efforts by the country to secure an early exit from international oversight.
Greece has received 240 billion euros ($304 billion) since 2010 in bailouts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But the money has come with strict requirements that have led to unpopular tax hikes, salary reductions and pension cuts. Greek unemployment has risen to more than 26 per cent.
Greece is now hoping to become the third eurozone country after Ireland and Portugal to leave its international rescue programme. Athens made “considerable progress” over the summer, but “significant further work” remains, Dijsselbloem said after leading a meeting of the Eurogroup panel of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg.
“The situation is very fragile (in Greece),” EU Economy Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said. “That’s why there are lots of structural reforms which must be pushed forward in order to improve economic growth and the investment climate.”
The IMF’s bailout programme for Greece is due to last until early 2016, but Europe’s programme is slated to conclude at the end of this year.
“We have not officially heard from the Greek government on how they see the situation as of January 1,” Dijsselbloem said. “There is a strong consensus on the fact that it has to be a sustainable exit, and it has to be credible also to all the outside partners.”
He did not rule out the possibility of a precautionary credit line for a post-bailout Greece to reassure nervous investors.
“Before the end of the year, we will do new calculations on debt sustainability to see what the financing needs for the Greek government are, … and then we can see what is necessary,” Dijsselbloem said.
Greek government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi told private broadcaster ANT 1 that the end of the bailout would take place “without our public finances being disturbed and without new debt and deficits being formed”.
“We will move forward with our own programme, which will not be subject to the tight monitoring we have had until now,” she said, following talks Sunday in Washington between Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
International creditors plan to return in early November to Athens to continue their fifth review of Greece’s bailout programme.