Moscovici confident of 'compromise' with Greece on remaining reforms

Update: November, 04/2015 - 11:08


ATHENS — The EU's economic affairs commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, voiced confidence on Tuesday that Greece would reach a "compromise" with its creditors by the end of the week on remaining reforms demanded under its third bailout.

Speaking at a press conference in Athens after talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, the commissioner said there were "three or four issues" still on the table.

"With the spirit of compromise, I believe that we'll find a compromise by the end of the week, in order that the Eurogroup (meeting of eurozone finance ministers) on November 9th will be a success," Moscovici said.

Greece in July accepted a three-year, 86-billion-euro (US$96-billion) EU bailout that saved Athens from crashing out of the eurozone, but came with strict conditions.

Among the areas of disagreement four months later are lenders' demands that Athens implement measures to facilitate home loan foreclosures.

The Greek government insists on maintaining a shield for more vulnerable households.

The two sides have also been sparring over Greece's mechanism for dealing with bad loans – an important factor in shoring up the country's beleaguered banks – and over the EU's demands for a 23-per-cent VAT rate on private education.

Tsakalotos said the remaining issues were important for Greece because they had "social repercussions." Moscovici acknowledged that the reforms demanded of Greece's leftist government were "not easy" and assured him the European Commission was "on your side." "Progress has been made, a lot of work is going in the right direction," he said of the reforms already implemented by Tsipras's administration.

Greece received a first tranche of 13 billion euros in bailout funds in August.

It had been expecting the disbursement of another two billion euros in October but the eurozone withheld the funds until resolving the remaining sticking points in the bailout programme.

At their meeting on November 9 eurozone finance ministers will consider whether Greece has made sufficient concessions to receive the outstanding funds.

Athens' long-standing demand for a restructuring of its towering debt were also raised at the meeting between Moscovici, Tsipras and Tsakalotos.

Moscovici said that discussion could only begin in earnest, after the first review of Greece's bailout, slated for later this month.— AFP