Eurogroup to check on Greek prior actions; Cyprus and exchange rate also on agenda

Eurogroup to check on Greek prior actions; Cyprus and exchange rate also on agenda

Greece’s progress with regards to a range of so-called prior actions will be under examination at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday, the first Eurogroup to be led by its new president, Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will have to convince his counterparts that Greece has completed all of the 15 goals it had been set by its lenders in order to qualify for February’s loan tranche.

The targets, include completing the new mid-term fiscal plan, which was submitted to Parliament last week, moving 25,000 civil servants into a labor mobility scheme and steps towards strengthening the tax inspection system and completing privatizations.

Speaking ahead of the Eurogroup on Monday, Greek government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou suggested that Athens was examining the implications of the troika’s admissions regarding miscalculations about the fiscal multipliers of the Greek fiscal consolidation program.

“We are making use of these statements to review the Greek program,” said Kedikoglou without giving any further details.

Ahead of next week’s presidential election in Cyprus, euro finance ministers are also due to discuss the country’s bailout.

Cyprus has been in talks to become the fifth recipient of rescue aid, though euro area leaders are awaiting a new leadership that may be more amenable to demands such as privatizing state assets.

Nicos Anastasiades, who leads the main opposition DISY party, is poised to win the Feb. 17 election, according to three final polls. A runoff in Cyprus will be held Feb. 24 if none of the candidates next week wins an outright majority.

The Cyprus bailout is fraught because any aid package could approach the size of the island nation’s 18 billion-euro economy even as accusations are made about tax fraud and deposits by Russian billionaires.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Monday that the eurozone’s exchange rate policy would also be discussed at the meeting of finance ministers.

"We will have a debate about exchange rates. The euro has appreciated strongly in recent months ...for positive reasons, because confidence is coming back in the euro zone,» Moscovici told reporters on entering the ministers' meeting.

"We should have - I have insisted that this debate takes place - a coordinated approach between us that will allow for us to argue for exchange rate stability, especially within the G20,» he said.


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