Greece, lenders meet on working methods to start reforms, unblock aid

Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:36pm EDT
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By Jan Strupczewski and Renee Maltezou

BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek representatives started talks with official international creditors in Brussels on Wednesday, taking the first step toward an agreement on the reforms Greece must implement to unblock further aid as Athens runs out of money.

It is the first such meeting between Greece and its official creditors since the new, left-led government in Greece took power at the end of January on a pledge to end the fiscal discipline that was the condition for almost 240 billion euros in loans that Athens has received since 2010.

EU officials cautioned, however, that the meeting on Wednesday, which began at 9 a.m. EDT, would not produce any spectacular results and reform implementation would not even be discussed at this stage.

"They will discuss working methods," one European official said. "They have to agree on how to get on with it and that's why this will not be a particularly long meeting -- they should wrap it up by tonight or tomorrow."

Discussions on a concrete set of reforms that Athens would need to undertake to get the 7.2 billion euros from various creditors outstanding under the bailout would only start in the next meetings, officials said.

"These talks need to take forward the specification of the list of reform proposals envisaged by the Greek authorities in order to be able to reach an agreement at the latest by the end of April," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.

Time is short because Greece could run out of cash by the end of the March, which could mean a default on payments that are due in the following months, unless it gets more loans from the euro zone.

While talks on what reforms will have to be done will take place in Brussels, technical teams of the Greek government and the creditors will work in parallel in Athens, because that's where all the necessary data was, officials said.   Continued...

A European Union flag (L) and a Greek national flag flutter as the sky is reflected on a building front in Athens February 17, 2015.  REUTERS/ Alkis Konstantinidis