Now it has really arrived in Brussels: the list from Athens with which the Greek government explains the reforms with which it wants to satisfy the donors and keep its election promises. This was announced by the EU Commission.
When is it finally coming? The spokeswoman for the EU Commission, Mina Andreeva, had to listen to this question countless times yesterday and kept giving the same answer: "We haven’t received a list yet!" It should actually have been there yesterday, a list of plans and ideas for how the Greek government will meet the donors’ obligations – the prerequisite for extending the aid program for Greece and completing it successfully: "You have until midnight."
But even until midnight there was nothing in Brussels. It didn’t arrive until early in the morning, the list that was supposed to save Greece from bankruptcy. It is intended for the finance ministers of the euro zone. Until recently, the formulations were apparently worked on, in Athens and Brussels. Something leaked through: Athens wanted to stick to some social measures that were promised in the election campaign and cost a lot of money: for example, special grants for poorer pensioners. The minimum wage is to be increased.
Concerns in Brussels
Above all, there were concerns in Brussels about the latter. Greece’s competitiveness could come under further pressure. In return, Athens offered "structural reforms" to improve tax revenues. Bureaucracy is to be dismantled, tax evasion and corruption are to be combated as well as gasoline and cigarette smuggling.
It remains unclear whether these declarations of intent are sufficient for the "institutions", ie the former troika, to successfully complete the aid program and to be able to pay out the remaining sums from this program by the end of June. Today experts from the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund should bow over the list. In the afternoon, the EU finance ministers want to hold a conference call to decide whether the reform plans meet the donors’ requirements. If not, another meeting of finance ministers should take place in Brussels at short notice.
Aid to Greece: the next steps
Today: The EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund want to finally evaluate the list submitted by Greece by this evening. If the three approve the paper, a four-month extension of the Europeans’ current aid program can be officially decided – probably in a conference call of the finance ministers. In countries like Germany, parliament has to give its consent.
Friday, February 27th: In some countries the national parliaments have to give their consent. The vote in the Bundestag could take place on Friday morning.
Saturday, February 28th: Actually, the already extended program would have expired. If everything is approved, the current aid program is to be extended by four months until the end of June.
Until the end of April: By then, the Greek government will have to submit a final list of its reform plans.
First draft probably not satisfactory
The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is said to have sent a first draft to Brussels yesterday. Apparently not to the satisfaction of the recipient. Then there was assistance and formulation assistance, drafts were sent back and forth between Athens and Brussels. For EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva "a normal process". Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis had announced after the last euro finance ministers’ meeting on Friday evening that the list would be sent out on Monday: "If it doesn’t work, our citizens and the rest of the euro zone will have to face the consequences," he said.
Time is running out. In some euro countries, the parliaments must finally give the green light for an extension of the aid program: "It will be difficult enough to convince the Bundestag," said Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble on Friday evening.
Not the last list
The list to be submitted now will not be the last. Whether Greece’s plans are financially viable will not be finally clarified until April. Only then does Athens have to prove that the reform steps that have been announced have also been decided and have come into force. Only then should the remaining tranches from the aid program be transferred. The "provisional" list, which is now being examined and which is the basis for the principle extension of the aid program, is therefore also a concession to Greece. However, money from the aid program only flows after it has been "successfully completed," emphasized Schauble. Nevertheless, the decision is important for Athens.
A positive vote by the "institutions" (formerly "Troika") immediately gives Greece new financial leeway via the European Central Bank (ECB). Without a positive decision, the aid program will expire and the ECB will then no longer see any possibility of quickly helping Greece with the purchase of further government bonds or financial injections for the Greek banks in order to save the country from bankruptcy.