- Debt relief figure will only be known next year
Greece will have to keep waiting for details on how much debt relief it will get even though its bailout program is coming to an end, the Eurogroup President told CNBC on Thursday.
The Greek government has been asking for debt relief since its third bailout program was prepared in 2015. However, several political stones, including the upcoming federal election in Germany, have derailed any detailed conversations.
“As you know today will not be the meeting when we will take sort of the final decisions on what size of debt relief is needed,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the meetings of the 19 euro zone finance ministers told CNBC on Thursday.
“We’ve outlined last year what kind of debt measures we have standing ready. We’ve always said that at the end of the program, in the second half of next year we will do the final calibrations of what’s needed and how to design it,” he said ahead of a Eurogroup meeting.
Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told CNBC Thursday that he was optimistic of a solution. “I am quite optimistic that we will find a common solution but I cannot announce the result of our negotiations today before the meeting has started.”
On Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he was quite hopeful of the upcoming meeting.
“We’re looking ahead to the meeting … full of hope and expectation because we have implemented our commitments and we will continue to go down this route on the European path,” Tsipras wrote in an article for the German newspaper Die Welt.
The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told CNBC Thursday that the Eurogroup will do its best to reach an agreement.
“We will all do our best today to find an agreement for the Greek people, to get out of this day to day management of the debt crisis to find a long-term agreement for the Greek people, for the Greek government and for all European countries.”
He further added that clarity is always a good thing if you want a positive outcome.
“So I think that Mr. Dijsselbloem is right by saying that we need clarity in our agreement tonight and we are waiting for everybody to do a move, a very slight move but in the right direction. And we are waiting from the IMF to deliver a positive statement of course because if we want that agreement to be a good agreement for everybody we need to have the IMF on board with a positive support.”
Without a clear outline of debt relief, the European Central Bank is unlikely to make a decision as to whether to include Greek bonds in its asset purchase program — a decision that if positive would help the Greek economy and boost investor’s confidence.
But Dijsselbloem was clear. “The figure will only come right at the end of the program,” he said, referring to the size of the debt relief.