1 April – Euro Working Group Teleconference

Nicholas Theocarakis offers analysis of auctions and repossessions, of the need for collective bargaining – ILO best practices – but the level of total dismantling of workers’ rights by the previous government is unprecedented in Europe – 1/3 of working Greeks are undeclared labour, with terrible effects on pension funds – more not less labour market regulation is needed. The institutions refuse to discuss economic substance and any talk of debt restructuring. Greece signals potential default as it’s running out of funds to cover both the repayments to the IMF and the pension and civil service salary bills.

Thomas Wieser (00:00:02):

Also uh have a discussion on the HFSF buffer and uh, we noted and know and knew uh, that uh, uh, that we hope industrious work streams ongoing both in Athens and in Brussels, as there is this tale of two cities where meetings uh, have to take place in different compositions and different themes. Now, as uh, uh… this has been ongoing for some time. It was considered to be uh, necessary to bring all of us up to speed so that we shared uh, the same information. I would ask the three institutions to brief us in the usual sequence on where we are in terms of the negotiations or discussions or whatever you want to call them, knowing of course that as per the 20th of February, with a target date of end of April, which we should be working towards.

Speaker 1 (00:01:22):

Has entered the conference.

Thomas Wieser (00:01:24):

We also know that with the procedures that we have, we have significant parliamentary and other procedural requirements. So, we know that our timelines are fairly stretched. Uh, next week, as everybody knows, fortunately not yet in the media, there is Euro working groups/EFC Wednesday, Thursday. The week thereafter most of us will be meeting by chance, if not in Washington, and the week thereafter on the 24th and 25th we’ve got the informal ECOFIN and thus also a Eurogroup in Riga. So, these are the timelines. So, I will be asking the three institutions to brief us on where we are on these discussions. I have heard Nikos Theocarakis being in on this call. I will then ask Nikos Theocarakis to react and evaluate the situation from the point of view of the Greek authorities. Uh, colleagues may comment and question and I will try to draw some final conclusions where we are and what the implications for our future work will be. With that, I turn to colleagues from the Commission. Who is online from the Commission?

Marco Buti (00:03:00):

Thomas, Thomas, it’s Marco.

Thomas Wieser (00:03:01):

Marco, yes. Hello.

Marco Buti (00:03:04):

Hi, um, and welcome to everybody. Let me give you a broad view on how we see the programs that we have been making in the past days and weeks. We have also um, Declan Costello who’s our mission chief online. He may come in uh, to give you some further, further details and I hope I don’t [inaudible 00:03:36] here logistically. Um, okay. How we see things? I think some progress has been made in the negotiations. I mean, both in Athens and in Brussels. Greek ministries are across the [inaudible 00:03:54] to provide detailed information to our teams who have been there in Athens for almost three weeks now. However, one should recognize that the pace and intensity of the dialogue uh, um, is, in our view, insufficient to reach an agreement by the end of April, and the end of April is what uh, Thomas you recall, has been the institutional deadline.

Marco Buti (00:04:25):

Technical teams in Athens are starting to get essential information on the policy intentions of the government. Uh, you know, we, we have the experience of Greek officials attending the meetings who are uh, sometimes unaware of [inaudible 00:04:45] or they do not seem to be allowed to share [crosstalk 00:04:50]. Um, these institutions that have been-

Speaker 1 (00:04:57):

Has entered the conference.

Marco Buti (00:04:59):

They uh, as other colleagues from the ECB or from the IMF will confirm, have been patient and flexible, but I mean, we have to see see, and search again and again, that working methods are not efficient, in particular when one considers the extreme urgency of the situation. I think it is high time to focus on the substance and not the the form of the negotiations and it is imperative to step up the pace of these discussions. I mean, to resend, I think it’s important that the Greek authorities need to ensure that the senior staff attend the technical meetings in Athens with a clear mandate to [crosstalk 00:05:53] government and we need to cover all policy matters on the issue and I think not only some of the priorities, which are tabled by the authorities. Um, I mean, they…. this is as far as, in general terms, a part of the meeting in Athens uh, um, goal. The discussions in the Brussels group were useful, but they essentially remain limited to the policy intention of the government and we are lacking the necessary details in almost all issues.

Marco Buti (00:06:38):

And we know that the main details matter, as without, without, sufficient uh, level of in-depth discussion and details, we simply cannot make a meaningful assessment on individual reforms. Not uh, on the, on the package uh, as a whole. It is still not clear to us which measures the government is prepared to proceed with. And remember this, the 70 and the 30% divisions are prepared to proceed with so it will be formally part of the 70%, nor do we know what new measures are in the pipeline of… on the, on the, on the 70% less. I mean, based on discussions in the Brussels group, there seems to be the potential to common ground on a number of issues, including here the revision of the income tax code, the uh, the code of code, the modernization of the judicial system. Measures to tackle tax evasion and improve the VAT collection. Creating an independent tax administration. Removing unnecessary barriers to competition and making it easier to do business.

Marco Buti (00:07:57):

We cannot proceed on the basis of intentions alone. I mean, we need to see [inaudible 00:08:06]. Aside from the delay code by the working methods, I mean, progress on the policy discussion is being head up by several sources. Third, there’s a tendency to reject policy options out of the hand, on the ground that they were developed by the Greek’s administration, rather than on ground of substance, including… let’s say suppose they were devised with the assistance of um, organization like the OECD or the ILO, uh, and we know that the government is unwilling to cooperate with these organizations. So, I think this is uh… it’s important that we have clear instruction from the Prime Minister or ministries uh, I mean, to move away from this somewhat ideological stance. I mean, the legitimate design to protect the vulnerable, what is my… the second point is, [inaudible 00:09:12] critical reforms and needed to get the economy um, the economy moving. The um, other example, is essential that the program on non-performing loans [inaudible 00:09:23] to banks is tackled so that people can afford to pay their loans, so people who afford to pay the loans and actually do so.

Marco Buti (00:09:35):

I think it is unacceptable that people, that people with low income cannot afford to service the mortgage will be made homeless. So, this um… I think there’s a need to square this to objective by enabling banks to threaten to seize the assets of people with high income and also by ensuring that there is a functioning social safety uh, safety net. I mean, we uh, strongly urge the institutions to develop a targeted piece to protect the vulnerable in the society, including by uh, means-testing. Um, and there is no need to have a blanket extension on the moratoria on the foreclosure of primary, uh, primary residencies, nor there is a need to have an [inaudible 00:10:31] for the payment of back taxes that is unrestricted with large debts up to one million euro.

Marco Buti (00:10:42):

I mean, these policies… I mean, actually they run against the stated objective. They de facto favour the rich and punish the honest citizens with taxes. Now, the policy intentions are uh… as I indicated, not only in a number of instances unclear, but we continue to face cases of back-tracking. For instance, we remain concerned that the position of the national anti-corruption code has been de facto [inaudible 00:11:24] without the prior consultation and without clarity on the institution that will implement the critical policy, uh, policy areas. Um, we have concerns about the intention to suspend part of the previous pension report and we lack clarity on how the government uh, plan… the government plans to reduce the extensions on access to early retirement. I mean, this [inaudible 00:11:55] of the privatization process has been substantially scaled back, which clearly has implications for the DAC, but also negative implications of competitive and FDI going forward. I mean, even if reforms are not planned for the near future, we need to have clarity on government intention regarding the system of minimum wage and collective bargaining.

Marco Buti (00:12:20):

So, as you can see, I mean, from the examples I’ve given, we are far from having an agreement on a comprehensive and credible set of measures to deliver fiscal sustainability, financial sustainability and economic growth. I mean, the process uh, to which [inaudible 00:12:41] is clearly very suboptimal and the need to radically step up the pace of discussions to discuss and detail these hard choices. Now, um, on the next step, as far as discussions are concerned, I mean, first our technical team remains in Athens [crosstalk 00:13:00] and we continue to have meetings…. in meetings uh, this week. And we remain available uh, next week provided the authorities are well prepared. This is Athens up to the discussions, we are available to discuss in the Brussels group formation um, if and when the authorities wish to do so, and there are many issues left to discuss, including the fiscal targets for 2015 and beyond, as well as the post-June agreement.

Marco Buti (00:13:35):

Maybe, Tomas, I can just say a word in general on the liquidity situation, which is uh, which is acute and be best alleviated by sticking to the process agreed by… I mean, with the Eurogroup and the leaders. I mean, this means reaching an agreement with the institutions on a credible package of reforms governing all policy, uh, policy areas. And we think it’s not very helpful to keep reopening the idea of proceeding with uh, a limited session reform to unlock some formal [inaudible 00:14:17] financing. I mean, [inaudible 00:14:18] SMP profits. I mean, we are fully aware of the challenges that Greece will face in April. I mean, both to repay the loans and to pay wages and pensions uh, and I think Greece must do its utmost to cover these critical external and internal obligations. I think there is a specific point which is important, we have been discuss also with some colleagues who have direct experience in the matter. I mean, Greece should urgently up legislation that would give the government the automatic right to access the bank uh, balances of general government entities. As I said, these [inaudible 00:15:05] exist in a number of Euro countries and technical assistance can be provided to enable uh, uh, this.

Marco Buti (00:15:13):

Um, Thomas, I have been pretty long, but I wanted to give the feeling of where we stand on the various points. Thanks, thanks a lot.

Thomas Wieser (00:15:23):

No, Marco. I think that was very fine to give colleagues who are not as intimately associated with these discussions as the institutions are, a flavor of uh, where we are, at least from the point of view of the Commission…others may have other views. As usual, I turn now to Benoit.

Benoit Cœuré (00:15:47):

Yes, uh, good afternoon. I, um, let me start by uh… let me start by uh, saying that I uh, I fully concur with what Marco said. So, I don’t have to be very long. Uh, I will, I will um, confirm a number of points. First, related to the process and the general advancement of discussion and then I will focus on the uh, number of uh, financial issues which are closer to the ECB’s remit, financial liquidity. So, uh, starting with the uh… starting with the process, let me first thank the Greek colleagues and the authorities for the policy discussions that have taken place in Brussels. They’ve been extremely constructive. Uh, it was extremely good that all subjects could be fully discussed and uh, we uh, have seen a substantial broadening of the scope of the discussion, which really goes in the right uh, direction. Starting from the uh, list of initial discussion by the Greek authorities and then very broadly into the full range of economic, fiscal and reform issues.

Benoit Cœuré (00:17:02):

So, that’s certainly uh, very good. Um, let me uh, say however, that we are still at an early stage of the work, I would need that to conclude the review. Um, a number of, a number of policy intentions and initiatives by the government go in the right direction, which is very welcome. It is very relative that the authorities express a strong commitment to tackle corruption and vested interests in the Greek society and any step in that direction will have our staunchest support. Uh, that is most needed. Uh, many of these policy intentions, however, they remain relatively unspecific and as we all know, the devil normally lies in the details and so we look forward to work closely with the administration to design the policy plans. And the first step to understand that policy plan and then to discuss the details. So, that was a useful first stage, that we know how to go into more details to organize a number of areas, areas. Also, for us to be in a position to provide a costing uh, of these different measures. We appreciate the numbers that were sent by the uh, by the Greek authorities, but the role of the three institutions is to be able to, to, to check the numbers.

Benoit Cœuré (00:18:27):

Perform a judgment on the numbers and we’re not yet in a position to do that given the lack of details. And that, uh, and here the conclusion in terms of process is that it really lies in the uh, the pursuit of the discussions in Athens at a technical level. Um, as Marco has already said, uh, we have to note that a number of proposals here clearly uh, run counter to the current program and its objectives. This is not only about the labor market and the tax policies where there are obviously differences, but also in other fields, and as we, as we’ve already said in previous discussions and meetings, um, it is problematic that the authorities have proceeded to legislate in several areas uh, even before the discussion had started. Uh, and that includes the installment flow, the dismantling of the national anti-corruption coordinator, uh, and the transfer away from the [inaudible 00:19:35] tax administration, which all go uh, uh, counter to the objective of either improving the governance of the tax system and/or even of improving the fairness of the system.

Benoit Cœuré (00:19:46):

And that’s related in particular to the installment law which is extremely generous and covers a number of households which clearly don’t have problems paying their taxes. Um, we um, uh, in terms of the speed of the process, as Marco said, we really are at a point where we need to speed up the process if we want to achieve the objective that we agreed in the Eurogroup meeting. We acknowledge the difficult [inaudible 00:20:20] position of the government, um, but that’s… the only conclusion here is that we have step up the intensity of the discussions, both at the policy level and at the technical level, in order to make sure that a um, a political decision can be reached as early as possible. But the answer here lies in the quality of the discussion and the [inaudible 00:20:40] of the discussion in uh, in Athens and Brussels. And Marco said that we’ve been… our colleagues have been in Athens for three weeks, which is actually true, but the fact is that the, the, the real discussions in Athens have started last Friday.

Benoit Cœuré (00:21:00):

So, we have a record of four days of effective technical discussions in Athens. So out of these three weeks, only four days were intense, uh, useful, uh, uh, grinding out technical discussions in Athens. And that’s another thing that… so if we go in that direction, it is not enough. Um, the um, moving to the um… moving to the financial issues, uh, [inaudible 00:21:29] the financials to the liquidity conditions remain high. Uh, the pace of the credit outflow has… is again increasing. So, as we know, there is quite a lot of [inaudible 00:21:40] relativity in the numbers so, I’m not commenting on the daily numbers, but we are worried by the accelarating trend that we are seeing over the last… that we’ve been seeing over the last uh, uh, uh, week. Um, as a consequence, central bank operations of [inaudible 00:21:59] also has [inaudible 00:22:01] around 107 billion euros and remember that the starting point was early December, 45 million euros, and it’s now 107 billion euros reliance of the central bank money.

Benoit Cœuré (00:22:14):

Which issues the goal of private funding from the Greek economy. [crosstalk 00:22:21] the ECB, week after week, is increasing. That is not object to increase the liquidity assistance provisioned by the Central Bank of Greece. Again, last week, the ELA was increased to 71.3 billion until today. Later today the governing council will again discuss further ELA increase. The financing of the private economy remains ensured by continued ELA provision by the Central Bank of Greece. It’s not in the objective of the governing council. Finally, on a, on a, two specific financial sector issues, and moratorium, which Marco also mentioned, um. We are concerned that the envisaged legislation may have adverse consequences also because of the broad scope in the same direction than for the law. It starts from a good objective which is uh, in this case, to uh, to protect the [inaudible 00:23:35] and fully share this objective. But it is designed in a way that is extremely broad that will benefit people that don’t need it. That will also undermine the financial sector and create moral hazard and undermine what is currently one of the remaining assets of the Greek economy, which is the healthy situation of the banks.

Benoit Cœuré (00:23:58):

[inaudible 00:23:58] with private money and so, this is not new debt for the government. This is private money that has been invested in the Greece banks. They are a little bit recapitalised. That’s one of the remaining assets of… to ensure confidence in the Greek economy. It’s very important not to undermine it further and we are concerned by this law. And as… just as Marco concluded, we would encourage the authorities to work on a social system [crosstalk 00:24:24] household in a general way, a cost-cutting way, as a permanent solution to address, uh, to address the reliability of the lower end of the income scale, whether it’s a design or different sector laws in a way that creates [inaudible 00:24:40]. Um, and finally on the HFSF, the Hellenic fund, it is very important that the HFSF can continue to operate as a [inaudible 00:24:54] institution, uh, at arm’s length from the State, and we are concerned by the recent resignations of two members of the general council of the HFSF. Um, so uh, we urge the authorities to protect the governance of the HFSF and to uh, follow the procedures of the HFSF alaw its bank members in the regional council.

Benoit Cœuré (00:25:20):

That’s also very important for financial stability. Um, as a conclusion, let me say that uh, there are often references to these discussions to the ECB either reinstating the waiver or lifting the [inaudible 00:25:38]. That is a decision that will be taken by the governing council, including governance, and they have the advancement of the discussion and what the governing council will need to see to take a decision is a credible perspective of a successful conclusion of the review. So, what we’re discussing here is do we see a perspective of a successful conclusion as a review and the existing arrangement? Meaning that this not only about the pace of the discussion, but also, the breadth of the discussion. This is about potentially, ultimately, concluding the review, which is about covering the full range of the arrangement. Um, so that is uh, what we want to uh, to see and also what we want to hear from the EWB before the governing council of the ECB can attempt to discuss it in a meaningful way. I stop here for now.

Thomas Wieser (00:26:35):

Thanks very much. Um, also very comprehensive. And here, I turn now, finally, for [inaudible 00:26:43].

Speaker 2 (00:26:45):

Thank you, Tomas. Good afternoon to everyone. [crosstalk 00:26:49] I fully agree with what Marco and Benoit said and I have nothing to add further at this stage. Thank you.

Thomas Wieser (00:26:56):

Um, that was even more clear, but, okay. Um, colleagues apparently have been very comprehensive and experiences more or less in parallel. Let me turn now to Nikos to give us the Greek perspective on how things have progressed especially over the last couple of [crosstalk 00:27:21]. Hello.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:27:27):

Hello. Thank you, Thomas, for um…I would like to address several of the issues that uh, Marco and Benoit raised before. First of all, about the meetings of the technical teams in Athens and in Brussels group. I’m happy to note that you understand that it is a common understanding that the meetings in Brussels that last three days showed progress. And it was a better understanding from our side and the side of the institutions. Um, I’m also happy to note that you see that there is progress no the work that is done in Athens at the level of technical teams. Let me, however, remind you that uh, this was a very new process that has been established. That we have a meeting at the Brussels group level and then meetings at technical teams in Athens. So, we had to find out a way to cooperate with each other. So, at the beginning…when the modality has changed and people did not go to ministries and ask whatever type of data they liked. First the technical teams from the institutions were not well prepared. And there were no specific questions asked.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:29:02):

At the second level, when we got specific question, we had, in actuality, an info glass. We were flooded with information that our people, and to be frank, our young government, could not answer to your heart’s content. So, communication was indeed suboptimal, but I think that recently, we have found a way to work in a more efficient and a more productive way, and since you understand and believe that our intentions are to give you as much information as you require to perform the review, we can carry on as long as it is necessary. And I think you understand very well that there is no stone walling from the part of the Greek government. So, in that respect, I think we have reached a modus mivendi in providing that information and we will continue to do so. So, the more we cooperate, the better the flow of information will be. Now, on the other hand, in uh, in the Brussels group meeting in the last three days, we have presented a number of our proposed reforms and we have actually put numbers on those reforms. And we compared the baseline scenario with reforms we intend to take that will affect that and produce a viable solution for Greece.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:30:38):

In fact, after the discussions we had, we produced a new document that has taken into consideration all those comments we had received, which we have sent a few hours ago to the members of the Brussels group and I will be very happy to send a copy to all members of the Euro working group. Now, there are many issues I would like to address. For example, it was mentioned that there is a tendency, when a good measure has been adopted by the previous government, that to resist to adopt this measure simply because it has been adopted by the previous government. This is simply not true. To be frank, in many cases, when we entered minister’s offices, we find only the furniture. So, in some ways, we’re not even well informed about the work that has been done from our side. But, also, we know and I think you know, that our true intentions is to apply all those measures that would lead to the creation of a better, just, fair and more efficient state that is commensurate to the expectations of the Greek peopl and our partners in the European Union to which were invariably committed.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:32:02):

For example, there are other international organizations such as the ILO or the OECD we’re working in close cooperation with them, there are teams as we speak from our ministries that go through the OECD people to produce agreements. So, this is not an ideological thing we’re talking about. And in fact, ideology works both ways. What you see as common sense, we see as ideology and vice versa. So, the idea is to find out what is optimal for Greece so that we have a viable, developing and growing economy that will make sustainable the payment of its debt. And I’m happy to know that… you know that we have reached agreements in many issues and that we are in the process of working even further

Nikos Theocarakis (00:33:03):

With you to resolve matters that are subject of negotiations and that in some we can yield, and you know also that because we have specific commitments to the Greek people, there are other issues which we have costed and we shall not go back. Take pension reform for example. You call it a rollback. On the other hand, in the view of my government, reducing pension sharply for those on low pensions is not really a reform.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:33:34):

We are in the process of reforming the pension system. This will take time, it will take actual studies, and all that. But we have costed that there’s a little more than one billion, not to accept the zero deficit clause in our pensions system. This will be done only for this year, and then we will, with your technical assistance, come up with a system that is both fair and viable.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:34:03):

Regarding the issue of early retirement, I think we said that in the Brussels group, that our government is committed to pass a law that restricts early retirement in most cases, excepting those for example who are suddenly disability appears and the like.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:34:23):

Privatisation, another issue that has been raised. I think it is p- peculiar, to say the least, that a left-wing government is more sincere about privatisation than a right-wing government. And there was a lot of talks about how much we are going to get from privatisations, but we are budgeting 1.5 billion, and we’re in the process of continuing the process.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:34:49):

But in this process, we will improve vastly upon it, especially in the realm of offering safe and property rights to bidders. And minimizing the likelihood of legal challenges of the [inaudible 00:35:01] led to the undoing of previous privatisations. In this sense, there’s nothing worse in privatisations about, uh, for the, uh, potential investor not to know that his bid is secure.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:35:17):

So we would like to ask in the future, minimum investment provisions, state equity for the government, local economy development, and, uh, some minimum conditions for our employees, and we would like to escape the firesale logic. On the other hand, we tend to enhance the property right of the bidders by offering them things about the development of their properties, that were not there and in fact were gridlocked in, uh, those privatisations.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:35:50):

So we are very clear about the privatisations we are going to do. We are going to respect everything that has been legally done by the previous government, and in fact increased the property rights of those who have entered in privatisation agreement for the Greek government.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:36:10):

Now regarding for example, issues like the moratorium of foreclosures. First, it has not been tabled in parliament yet, and also we believe that what can be seen as optimal at the micro level, what could be disastrous at the macro level, it is the fallacy of composition so to speak. Foreclosures of primary residents at the time when house prices are extremely depressed is in reality undermining the capitalization of the banks, seeing as they further reduce the value of the real estate portfolio.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:36:41):

I think people from the Brussels group heard the, uh, Secretary General of Public Revenue, Katerina Savvaidou, discussing what a disaster was the attempt to go through auctions of people who actually had large properties. The, the, the problem was that there is no liquidity, there is no prospect, there are property taxes. No one wants to own property, so unless we accept a level of real estate of the past of real estate in Greece, that is absolutely out of the money, the, the whole thing would be disastrous in our case.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:37:21):

So, uh, regarding collective bargaining, we of course willing to work with the ILO in establishing best practices and not going back to a system that was definitely not optimal. On the other hand, what do we see is that as a result of the agreements of the previous government, it has been a total dismantling of collective bargaining in Greece to a level that I don’t think that other European countries who have a history of, uh, worker’s right culture, so to speak, was there.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:37:57):

So, and take another example. In labor market reforms, I think we know our little market better than other people, and one of the basic characteristics of our labour market is that one third of those employed, and let alone the one quarter of those… of the labor force who are unemployed, are undeclared, uninsured labor. So we said quite specifically, what we really need in terms of labor market reform is to make more important and more intense the inspection by the labor inspectorate so what that there is a crackdown on undeclared and uninsured labor.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:38:38):

This would have very sizeable effects on our pension funds and I think we really underestimated that effect, uh, but say 150, uh, million euros. It will-

Thomas Wieser (00:38:53):

Nikos, you don’t, you don’t have to carry us through all the details-

Nikos Theocarakis (00:38:55):


Thomas Wieser (00:38:55):

… o- of-

Nikos Theocarakis (00:38:55):


Nikos Theocarakis (00:38:56):

Okay, okay.

Thomas Wieser (00:38:58):

So far-

Nikos Theocarakis (00:38:59):


Thomas Wieser (00:38:59):

… I, I’ve not actually received any reaction of yours to what the colleagues were saying. Uh, what we are here, uh, for is to have an update on where we are-

Nikos Theocarakis (00:39:09):


Thomas Wieser (00:39:10):

… uh, and that we understand where the process is going, and, uh, so far, uh, uh… Don’t, don’t, like, don’t-

Nikos Theocarakis (00:39:18):


Thomas Wieser (00:39:18):

… concentrate on giving us-

Nikos Theocarakis (00:39:20):


Thomas Wieser (00:39:20):

… n- newspaper headlines. Uh, see how you, uh, s- Tell us how you see the technical process. We’re, we’re technicians, we’re not, we’re not, we’re not public orators. Go ahead.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:39:33):

Okay. [inaudible 00:39:34] Uh, we have today submitted to the Brussels group this detailed 26-page document that explains the reform that our government is proposing. So you will see there, when you read it, that we have incorporated feedback from the institutions during the discussion. So, uh, I will send it forthwith when we finish this review.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:39:58):

But let me read and I think that we are in a very good, uh, direction with the institutions. Now, there is a problem however, that we should not let the review become a post-mortem. We are running out on the 9th. We shall not legislate in order to soak up from various organization the last drops of liquidity left. So in fact, there is no way that we can go beyond the 9th of April.

Nikos Theocarakis (00:40:32):

We are very keen to continue with the Brussels groups and the technical team discussions in Athens. We are eager to introduce to parliament a number of reform bills very quickly pushing forward mutually agreed reforms. And to be frank, the very idea that the full final review will preceed an arrangement that looks after liquidity in the very short run is in our government’s view, quite unrealistic.

Thomas Wieser (00:41:10):

So uh, we’ve now had, uh, uh, very, very, uh, uh, differentiated views over the process, uh, is, uh, quite frankly from Nikos, I haven’t… The only thing I gathered on process that’s, uh, you remain willing both in Athens and in Brussels, which I think is, uh, is very fine. Um, before I open up to colleagues to ask a question and comments [inaudible 00:41:40], um, I would simply say, uh, what my understanding is in terms of the process.

Thomas Wieser (00:41:49):

Uh, what, uh, we as the Euro working group, uh, need to do, uh, is, uh, wait until the three institutions and the Greek authorities have reached a complete, uh, agreement, uh, on a comprehensive views, uh, which is, uh, analyzed, uh, costed, uh, and, uh, which shows, uh, what the economic and fiscal policy consequences are.

Thomas Wieser (00:42:20):

Uh, this is of course in a first, uh, iteration, this is not yet, uh, [inaudible 00:42:27] agreement which, uh, would come at a, uh, later stage in which after, uh, implementation and compliance reports would lead to the disper- dispersment, uh, I will [inaudible 00:42:43], uh, of HSFS funds, SMP profits, uh, and, uh, IMF liquidity [inaudible 00:42:51] the relevant national orders.

Thomas Wieser (00:42:57):

Um, as an intermediate steps, I would like to pick up on, uh, that and also as an intermediate step permits to generate, uh, a credible perspective of a successful conclusion of the meeting. And a credible perspective of a successful conclusion of the review is in my view, and not only my view, uh, a complete list of measures, uh, which I think touches upon those which the Greek government, uh, is wishing to implement but which also needs to deal, uh, in a succinct manner, uh, with the other 30% percent [crosstalk 00:43:39] questions on which, uh, uh, at least a [inaudible 00:43:43] uh, percentage, uh, which Yanis Varoufakis has been mentioned, uh, repeatedly in a succinct manner and also 30%, uh, which are subject of course, to negotiation. This ought to be the case, uh, that a, uh, uh, [inaudible 00:44:01]

Thomas Wieser (00:44:03):

So, uh, I guess, uh, we are, from what I have heard, still quite a long way, even from this intermediate, uh, step, and I would, and, uh, uh, I would ask ask some questions A) on content and B) on procedure before we proceed. So who wants to take it here?

Thomas Wieser (00:44:42):

Any colleagues?

Irina (00:44:42):

Thomas, it’s [Irina 00:44:42] here.

Thomas Wieser (00:44:43):

Yes, Irina, go ahead.

Irana (00:44:44):

So I just want to check, um, and ask Nikos, what, what does… How do they see the payments in April?

Thomas (00:44:57):

Um, shall we collect a few comments? Shall we collect a few comments and questions?

Nabil (00:45:06):

[inaudible 00:45:06] It’s [Nabil 00:45:08]. Yes, uh, my questions, um, because, um, uh, we have been talking about Nikos measures which were submitted by the Greek side. Um, frankly they have been already news in a lot of m- media, so, um, it would be really very helpful to get this list of measures so that we actually know what we are talking about. And I understand from Nikos that he’s going to send to the members of the, the EWG which would be very helpful.

Thomas Wieser (00:45:35):

Possibly. Um, okay, anybody else?

Thomas (00:45:40):

Thomas, this is Thomas, if I may.

Thomas Wieser (00:45:41):

Yes, Thomas.

Thomas (00:45:45):

Yeah, thank you. First on the, on the list, uh, maybe the three institutions could really help me, uh, what kind of list we are now, uh, talking about. Uh, if they’re approved, sent to the three institutions, uh, or are we talking about the list that is floating around, if I may call it like this, in the internet? I’m certainly a little bit puzzled about the state of, uh, play. And on the question of why we [inaudible 00:46:16] to get the latest version of the list, just to remind you that if you send that list to me, I have to immediately send it to [crosstalk 00:46:24]-

Speaker 4 (00:46:24):

Has entered the conference.

Thomas (00:46:27):

I said, I simply have to send it to parliament immediately. This is very fine for me, but you should be aware of that, uh, first point.

Thomas (00:46:36):

Second point on substance, would be very helpful to get some more information from the three institutions and maybe Marco could, uh, help us on the latest proposals coming from Athens. I guess, uh, this is part of the latest proposals, uh, that, uh, Greece again is proposing some debt relief, uh, which I fail to understand because, uh, Greece has subscribed to commit…uh, to honor its commitments. I don’t know whether this is true, but again, Marco maybe can help us.

Thomas (00:47:10):

Second, on the proposed fiscal measures, as well as on the lower primary surplus, uh, I’m wondering if those, uh, measures, how the three institutions at the end of the day can confirm their sustainability. I simply, uh, don’t know, but to have some flavor, uh, again, would be quite helpful.

Thomas (00:47:35):

Um, on process, Thomas I’m totally agreeing with your… what you just said. We need a, uh, complete agreement on the comprehensive, uh, list. And, uh, just to add to that, uh, let’s be as precise as possible because we are all under, I would call it democratic control, what I would need for any disbursement, which by the way would be very much in line with our statement 20 of, uh, February. I first need the staff level agreement, um, as you said, comprehensive one. Second I need a report of the state of play of the [inaudible 00:48:19] including a debt sustainability analysis. I very much hope that the three institutions, uh, will be in a position to confirm that this is what they are working on.

Thomas (00:48:32):

The third point is that I would need a compliance report on the implementation of all the measures by Greece.

Thomas (00:48:41):

The fourth point I would need is an early warning if there are significant changes of the conditionalities in the MOU because as you know, and I’ve said that in the past several times, uh, I have to go to plenary of my parliament for any significant change of the, uh, MOU.

Thomas (00:49:01):

And I’m sorry for that, but just to be as transparent as possible. And, uh, at the end of the day, on that basis, um, I can, uh, go to my bosses and to the parliament to suggest to disperse, um, the [inaudible 00:49:16] and not the other way around. So please keep that in mind that obviously we have a lot of work ahead of us, we are very willing to cooperate as closely as possible and to accelerate, to speed our work, as Marco has clearly, uh, worked out. But [inaudible 00:49:33] to be a frequency in that we have, uh, we have ahead of us.

Thomas (00:49:37):

So I would not see a real chance to disperse around the 9th of April just for the matter of, uh, clarity and, and honesty, uh, that we have. Thank you very much.

Thomas Wieser (00:49:49):

Very much. Other questions or comments?

Tooma (00:49:52):

This is [Tooma 00:49:53].

Thomas (00:49:54):


Tooma (00:49:55):

Thanks. Uh, I managed to cut myself off for a moment so I, I may have, uh, missed someone’s question, so sorry if I, if I repeat them. But the first, um, I too would be, uh, interested to hear the answer to Irina’s question. Uh, uh, I, I may have misheard. I though Nikos said that there’s no way they can go beyond 9th of April, uh, was, was this really what, what Nikos said or was… did he said something else?

Thomas Wieser (00:50:30):


Tooma (00:50:30):

Questions, uh, Thomas you said, um, that you [inaudible 00:50:32] got noise on the line right now. Are you hearing me?

Thomas Wieser (00:50:34):

Sort of, yes. Yeah.

Tooma (00:50:36):

Okay. Um, so yeah, good. Um, so y- y- y- you referred to, you… you referred to the possibility [inaudible 00:50:47] um, intermediate step, uh, to work more with the team to create this credible, uh, prospect, also a, a positive outcome, um, that Benoit requested. Uh, I’m hearing my own voice, this is terrible.

Tooma (00:51:03):

Um, but, but, correct me if I’m wrong, but this credi- credible prospect that Benoit was referring to was only about the waver. So the use of, of, uh, Greek government bonds is collateral and in my understanding, that would not help at all, uh, or at least not by much with liquidity. Uh, what would help with liquidity-

Tooma (00:51:29):

… um, would be increasing the ceiling for CPOs, uh, the use of CPOs that as, as collateral, and then combined with, uh, realization of what supervi- supervisory fluxes, not to, to, to, uh, purchase, uh, T-bills by the bank.

Tooma (00:51:53):

So it seems to me that, uh, that ECB… getting more ECB money in, in, uh, to, to help with liquidity might be quite a hurdle to meet. Maybe Benoit, Benoit could comment on, on that.

Tooma (00:52:08):

Final point, um, I, uh, l- like Thomas, like Thomas said on, um, I mean, given the fact that we have two and a half weeks to go to our elections, it… the only, only disbursement that we could envisage in these circumstances would be one with, uh, with, uh, uh, staff level agreements on, on, on, uh, on the full review and any kind of, of, of passion would, would be totally impossible at this point. Thanks.

Thomas Wieser (00:52:39):

Okay. Thank you very much Tooma. Somebody-

Thomas Wieser (00:52:47):

Somebody’s playing music, okay it stopped. Uh, I think I’ll take one more question or comment and then ask the institutions and, uh, uh, to give some intermediate responses at least. Any [crosstalk 00:53:05]?

Tropa (00:53:05):

Uh, so [Tropa 00:53:09] here. I don’t know whether…

Thomas Wieser (00:53:09):

Perfect, go ahead.

Tropa (00:53:09):

Right, well, uh, well yes, well I would like to say on the liquidity issue as some of the other colleagues pointed out. Uh, it, [inaudible 00:53:17] situation up to the 9th of April, um, um, afterwards, taking into account [inaudible 00:53:20] that is a, uh, personal matter the government will make, um, in April taking into account the experience with this situation. Um, secondly, uh, I’d like the institutions, if they can comment now in, in proper, uh, Um, whether they think the list, uh, we have now, the new list [inaudible 00:53:45] currently, is there a substantial difference from the m- the list presented to us in February.

Tropa (00:53:52):

So, uh, if there is a more comprehensive approach towards the measures and, uh, perhaps there’s some others, uh, it can deal with, or it’s still the same list we had before, I don’t know whether it’s a substantial change from the list we had, or if they are given two types of list.

Thomas Wieser (00:54:10):

Right. [crosstalk 00:54:11]

Tropa (00:54:11):

If I can add… And, uh, while I, I can’t ask that it is [inaudible 00:54:21] focus now because my decision with that, uh, I did, uh, with what my personal impression, but I heard… I said that it, it need to weigh a little bit more [inaudible 00:54:31] than the Commission and the IMF, um. Well, I don’t know what [inaudible 00:54:36] we can be thinking of the point of, uh, perspective of having a successful conclusion of the, of the review. Thank you.

Thomas Wieser (00:54:49):

Righto. Uh, I will turn maybe first, uh, to Marco, uh, to answer I- I- I think very much cer- centers around, uh, the list, uh, what kind of list, what is the status, and quite frankly is it intelligent to circulate? Uh, no what Thomas [Stetton 00:55:09] said, and I think our, our clarifying comments for the benefit, uh, of Nikos, then there’s issues around, uh, uh, liquidity, uh, etcetera. Um, so Marco, comment?

Marco Buti (00:55:26):

Yes. Um, Thomas, uh, um, now the first point on, uh, uh, on the list. I mean, we have received a, a written opinion, Nikos reme- um, uh, the ne- uh, m- uh, recalls that, uh, um, in the last days, uh, uh, including, uh, this morning, um, which, uh, present the abuse of the authorities, uh, on, on a number of, uh, um, measures, um, and, and possible reforms.

Marco Buti (00:55:39):

Um, I, uh, recall what you, Thomas, indicated at the very beginning, namely that there is a agreement that what would, uh, uh, emerge up the list, the list, would be, uh, something which, uh, has, uh, uh, the full backing of the institutions and not just simply let’s say the, um, ideas or proposals by the Greek authorities, precisely to, um, let’s say frame the n- the next thing in the process which would, uh… which may allow I think to, uh, uh, genuinely consider that the… by implementing those, uh, measures, um, the review would have a chance to be completed.

Marco Buti (00:56:53):

And with that, uh, possibility an idea, I took under the council of Benoit, who can confirm or not, possibly, uh, unlock some decisions of the, uh, of the ECB, um, on, uh, the same matters which are under their, uh, um, responsibility, uh, which, uh, could, uh, if they come, uh… let’s say if, if they process insufficiently, [inaudible 00:57:21] would leave them to, uh, alleviate some concern, uh, to the liquidity, uh, situation.

Marco Buti (00:57:29):

Now, e- in the light of this, uh, while understanding, uh, [inaudible 00:57:34] uh, um, on the [inaudible 00:57:40] person material piece, l- I call it like that rather than, uh, than let’s say a list, um, uh, considering the, th- th- th- the usual institutional concerns that Thomas Stetton, uh, indicated, um, and, uh, let’s say in spite of the generosity of, uh, Nikos Theocarakis in terms of, uh, uh, putting this available for this… for the, you know, benefit of the knowledge of the colleagues, I would be a little bit weary on, um, uh, let’s say having a full distribution of this program and it may, uh, crystallize, um, let’s say the, um, the intentions around something which has not, uh, uh, yet the pa- the backing of the-

Marco Buti (00:58:29):

… the institutions that needs to be discussed, uh, thoroughly in the process group.

Marco Buti (00:58:33):

So we’ve seen what has been distributed by the Greek authorities, uh, uh, the [inaudible 00:58:40] material out contributions to the Brussels group, uh, discussions rather than something that could be sent to [inaudible 00:58:48] I know, uh… I do not know whether what is, uh, circulating on the web, uh, if this or not. I, I, I would hope that this is, uh, is, uh, uh, and, uh, would remain, uh, n- uh, confidential.

Marco Buti (00:59:03):

Um, so this on, on one point. On the… I think on the, uh, 9th o- of uh, uh, April, uh, a deadline for the repayment, uh, um, I mean, I- and considering what has been, uh, said by colleagues, uh, and the state of play on the, uh, on the discussions, I would reiterate the, what I input at the very end of my previous intervention mainly that, um, um, we should on, you know, work on a double track.

Marco Buti (00:59:38):

On the one hand clearly speed up for the, the whole process of discussions, uh, to come to, uh, let’s say to an agreed, uh, list which can be supported by the, by the all the institutions, and second, we would urge, uh, the Greek, uh, uh, government to offer, uh, a law on, uh, access to, uh, you know, resources in general government entities. Uh, I recall here that, uh, in number of countries including I think the country the president of the Eurogroup knows best, uh, uh, this, um, legislation exists, so it would not be anything, uh, you know, really specific or unprecedented. At the same time I think would, uh, be very helpful.

Marco Buti (01:00:24):

We are, uh, as I said, uh, ready to provide our technical, uh, support, uh, also with the help of the countries having this type of legislation to help the Greek, uh, uh the Greek problems. [inaudible 01:00:38]

Marco Buti (01:00:41):

And, uh, on, uh, I think on the question Thomas [inaudible 01:00:44] on the, uh, on the debt relief, uh, I mean maybe Nikos should be the one, uh, who, uh, replies. We stick to the agreement that today is fully supported by all the parties, uh, uh, all the countries in the Eurogroup. Namely that, that fully repayment, uh, off all the creditors, uh, will, uh, take place and there is a Greek commitment on, uh, on, uh, on that.

Marco Buti (01:01:07):

Let me say also that in terms of technical, uh, technical support, we are ready to, um, uh, engage and to help the Greek authorities, uh, uh, also on the, uh, issues of, um, what we call the humanitarian, uh, um, concerns. So to pass, uh, uh, laws which allow to in- indeed, uh, help them to establish proper safety net, uh, to tackle and uh, uh, social issues. Uh, in a way, uh, as I indicated before which would not be let’s say detrimental or having possibly unintended, uh, uh, dam- damaging effects on other, on other parts. I mean, we are m- we’re supposed to be objective and we are fully behind it, and, uh, we are ready to help out, uh, on this.

Marco Buti (01:01:57):

Maybe I can, uh, I can stop here. Thanks.

Thomas Wieser (01:02:01):

Thank you very much Marco. I would not want to put, uh, Benoit into, uh, the position of, uh, talking about anything that is a, uh, uh, uh, decision of, uh, the government [inaudible] so, uh, let me just say that [inaudible 01:02:18] Thomas, I have, uh, heard some ambitions, not out of central banking circles, uh, but some, uh, ambitions that if such a credible prospective or successful conclusion of the review were forthcoming, uh, that could indeed, it will probably have some, uh, emotional, uh, uh, inputs on, uh, how, uh, central bankers view, uh, T-bill limits.

Thomas Wieser (01:02:47):

Uh, as I said, uh, this, this is not coming from central banking circles, but, uh Thomas, I would not, uh, want to, uh, uh, put Benoit on the spot, uh, with, uh, making an answer to that, kind of question.

Speaker 5 (01:03:01):

Of course Thomas, I- I- can, I mean I’m not going to, uh… I’m not going to uh, uh, to, uh, to prejudge what the government is going to say or not say, uh, but I can still say a word on, uh, how… uh, on, on, on the, um, on our framework, on our framework and which are the rules that we are implementing here, uh, if that suits you to, uh, to inform the discussion.

Thomas Wieser (01:03:24):

Yes, by all means.

Speaker 5 (01:03:25):

Okay. So I’m not discussing the [inaudible 01:03:26] but I’m just explain how the governing council thinks about these issues. And let me first say that it would be a big mistake to see, uh, this process, uh, that we are discussing today as being [inaudible 01:03:38] at, uh, reaching a, a decision extr- extracting a decision from the governing council of ECB. Uh, this is something that, uh, the, uh, the Greek authorities, uh should do for their own sake, uh, because it’s good for the Greek economy, and as [inaudible 01:03:53] said growth and, uh, first and foremost, because it will create confidence um, in front of the market an particular confidence by foreign investors.

Speaker 5 (01:04:04):

So what we are discussing here is a, a, a start that can, uh, bring, uh, Greece back to market access. And anything that the ECB can do on or not do,uh, will just be a consequence of this process. So it is not [inaudible 01:04:18] uh, it can be, it can be a consequence of the process but the process has to be, uh, uh, under [inaudible 01:04:24].

Speaker 5 (01:04:26):

Now coming to the, to the consequence that the governing council could draw, um, there are two separate issues. Uh, the first issue relates to the waiver the, and, uh, as, uh, as I said, uh, the, uh, waiver is about, uh, having the programs [inaudible 01:04:41] and so that’s about having a credible perspective of, uh, a conclusion of the lev- of a success- successful conclusion of the review. And that’s what we need to see to the reinstate the waiver.

Speaker 5 (01:04:52):

The second issue which is, which is separate, uh, is about the [inaudible 01:04:56] There is an issue that the ECB is facing is the coordination of [inaudible 01:05:02] financing and the situation where, um, a government that would have for, as a sole source of funding, uh, bills be entrusted by banks relying on, uh, central bank money, um, that is indirect [inaudible 01:05:16] financing. Um, and we’ve had two di- two different discussions, uh, that, uh, that the governing council will discuss, uh, based on different criteria.

Speaker 5 (01:05:25):

So, uh, you can have one or the other or both or neither of the two, it depends on, on the, on the first one… on the one hand for the prospect for successful conclusion of the review. On the second hand, the prospect uh, of, uh, a [inaudible 01:05:39] regaining market effort, and that’s two different discussions. So, uh, uh, a- and, uh, the extent of the discussion we’re having today is that it’s anyway too early, uh, to put that discussion to the governing council. So I’m not even going to ask the governing council today, given the discussion we’re having, uh, uh right now.

Speaker 5 (01:05:56):

Uh, my final remark, uh, relates to the liquidity situation. Um, as we’ve seen over the last weeks and days.

Speaker 6 (01:06:03):

…situation. Um, as we’ve seen over the last recent days, um, there are ways, uh, to, uh, manage, uh, the available cash, uh, existing in the general government, um, in the broad sense. There is cash in extra-budgetary entities outside of the central government. There is cash in regional authorities. There are ways to generate cash, um, that are, and we, we’re not suggesting that the Greek government should [inaudible 01:06:35] that certainly would not be our recommendation. And we are not in a position to say that. Uh, but there are ways to generate cash, such as selling shares in public companies, uh, so there are different ways to generate cash and our advice to the government is really to look, uh, at all possible ways, uh, possibly using the legislative instrument, as Marco, like in the Netherlands, which can be replicated quite easily.

Speaker 6 (01:07:02):

Thanks very much, uh, [inaudible 01:07:03]

Ricci (01:07:05):

Thank you, Thomas, uh, let me just come to a couple of points that were, that were very raised. So, first on the fiscal measures that we have seen. It’s very clear that the fiscal measures that have been put on the table are moving away from parametric measures, measures that are very easy to implement and easy to collect, to minuscule measures that have a very weak history of collections in Greece.

Ricci (01:07:32):

As such, the, the use that the authorities are considering are far too optimistic. Clearly a lot more technical discussions need to go into this but where it currently stands, ’cause we feel the measures that have been put on the table which was just way, way too optimistic. Now, in terms of the way the system measures [inaudible 01:07:53] we need to start to [inaudible 01:07:56] currently are today. So for that we should look at what is the fiscal performance for 2014. The fiscal performance in 2014, even by the authority’s own estimates, falls very far short of the [inaudible 01:08:10] surplus target that was set for last year.

Ricci (01:08:12):

[inaudible 01:08:12] is 1.5% of GDP, the authorities are, are projecting that they will fall very far short of that. The technical discussions are continuing and we think that there could actually be a deficit that would be registered last year and this is entirely because of non-implementation of measures and backtracking of measures in the later part of last year by the previous government.

Ricci (01:08:40):

This will of course impact the base for 2015 and, again, the technical discussions need to take place but, uh, [inaudible 01:08:48] there will also be a deficit also for this year as a starting point. Now there’s a question on the debt sustainability and obviously the debt sustainability would have to come later once the entire package [inaudible 01:09:01]

Ricci (01:09:04):

We need to summarize, uh, the, and coming back to some of the points that we made earlier even in regards to, uh, even in regards to the list, uh, that the authorities have put forth. On process, there has been some progress. But on substance the snapshot of where we stand today, is that we are very far apart on issues of [inaudible], and importantly, we are getting further away, in so far as there continues to be back tracking in several key areas of [inaudible 01:09:36]. Let me stop there. Thank you.

Speaker 6 (01:09:40):

Thank you very much, uh, [Ricci 01:09:42]. [Nikos Theocarakis 01:09:43]?

Nikos Theocarakis (01:09:46):

Okay. So, let me redirect again that we’re soon running out of money and it’s very hard to go beyond the ninth of April. Now, uh, Marco, both Marco and Benoit mentioned the extra cash that is, there available, and that uh, requires legislation, but in our Parliament we haven’t passed such legislation, since it would not suffice both for IMF repayments and paying for wages and pensions. So it would not make a difference. Now, recall that our stressed State already made payments of almost seven billion this year without having benefited from scheduled disbursements.

Nikos Theocarakis (01:10:33):

So we paid seven billion but received none. Now, regarding the measures list. Now the Brussels group has received a comprehensive list in Excel form of our reform proposals that demonstrate the 70, 30 mix that these, which measures from the tenth of December list from the institution we accept and which we propose to change and how. Today, we improved on that list after the discussions we had in the Brussels group and we have sent this detailed document outlining our proposal for each one of these measures, both the 70% and the 30% parts.

Nikos Theocarakis (01:11:15):

Now, I understand that, and I think everybody understands, that this is a working document that reflects the position of the Greek government. Of course it’s not something that has been agreed by all parties. But our, actually, I would like to send this document to the members of the Euro working group. I mean, you know, your trusted colleagues, I mean it is to you that we, uh, address our reform proposals.

Nikos Theocarakis (01:11:44):

So I don’t think that, uh, certain things are, should not, uh, should be censored before [inaudible 01:11:51] and then after that we should send these documents to the Euro working group. So if you all agree, I should send to you both the, uh, documents and the, uh, Excel, uh, um, spreadsheet on that.

Speaker 6 (01:12:16):

Okay. Colleagues, I said there was some kind of intermediate [inaudible 01:12:24] I think what the questions and comments that we’ve heard from you were quite pertinent. Is there anything else you would like to comment on, uh, or, uh, ask, uh, from the institutions?

Speaker 7 (01:12:48):

As say that, I, I, I really don’t want to put Benoit in a hard place so, um, I’m not doing that but just two technical questions, uh, am I right, uh, that, uh, Greece getting the waiver, in itself would have, uh, small or no effect on the government liquidity? That’s the first question. And the second question, uh, am I right that if the governing council decided to raise the [inaudible 01:13:22] for, uh, the use of T-bills as collateral, would also have little effect on government liquidity because by [inaudible 01:13:34] would be prohibited to buy, uh, those T-bills, so in addition to [inaudible 01:13:43] this would require also to provide the registrations. That, that is my question. I didn’t want Benoit to speculate on what the governing council, might or might not decide.

Speaker 6 (01:14:00):

Anybody else?

Speaker 8 (01:14:02):

This is just [inaudible 01:14:03] can I come in?

Speaker 6 (01:14:04):

Yes. Yes. Sure.

Speaker 8 (01:14:06):

[inaudible 01:14:06] to folllow up on what said on the list of reforms because some of us might, uh, get into a somewhat difficult situation in a sense that there are apparently bits and pieces on the internet on this list of [inaudible 01:14:23] censor by the Greek authorities and of course, um, taking, uh, account of the rather long tradition of leaks and so on, it would be very embarrassing for us if, uh, one day, uh, this list is, uh, being published somewhere and [inaudible 01:14:42] how, uh, come that you didn’t have the list, uh, beforehand. So, I understand the arguments of course of Marco and Thomas and son on, but I’d like to raise your attention attention to the fact that some of us might, uh, get into a pickle.

Speaker 6 (01:15:01):

Uh, anybody else?

Speaker 7 (01:15:09):

[inaudible 01:15:09] Just a question to, to you Thomas. I think, uh, we should leave it in your hands how to communicate if, uh, if needed and not to leave it to all parties involved to communicate to the outside world about the outcome of this, uh, telephone, uh, conference. I can well imagine that now circulating some list, whatever the list will be, might also lead to some further communication. As I said to you, I have to forward that list immediately to the parliament, so discussion about the quality and the quantity of the list will immediately start. So I would be more that happy to know that you will be the one to communicate and give the right messages on the state of play and not leave it to all parties involved to communicate. Thank you.

Speaker 9 (01:16:00):

Can I come in?

Speaker 6 (01:16:05):

Yes. Please come in

Hans (01:16:08):

Um, I would, I would seriously try to advise against sending this list around. [inaudible 01:16:15] if I would have it, my parliament would ask for it, just as in Germany and, uh, and our Greek colleague Nikos Theocarakis should realize that if this list had been sent to parliament, the parliament in our country will think something about it and it will certainly not help negotiations. So, really, really we shouldn’t do this. Um, if you wanna kill any prospect of, uh, of getting results in the coming months, we should send this list around and we’re, we’re back at square one. Thanks.

Speaker 6 (01:16:56):

Thanks you Hans.

Thomas Wieser (01:16:58):

Uh, I think I get the gist. Any other further questions, comments? So, maybe let me try and [inaudible 01:17:10]

Benoit Couré:

So, indeed, um, the, um, for the, um, there are two separate issues. Which is the, th- amount of T-bills which is allowed under monetary policy, so the T-bills that act as collateral to monetary policy. And also there is a monitoring of the amount of T-bills held by the Greek banks, by the ECB, in the framework of the EMA monitoring, in order to make sure that there is no monetary financing. So all the monetary policy [inaudible]. And as Thomas said, there is, separately [inaudible], to restrict the spending of T-bills and, more generally, the general exposure of the general banks by Greek banks for liquidity reasons. These are two separate decisions. So, uh, for anything to happen you would need two decisions. One by the governing council on the T-bills related to the monetary financing concern, and another decision by the supervisory board, uh, in, based on supervisory, financial grants, and these are two different decisions due to the separation principle.

Thomas Wieser (01:18:43):

Thanks very much for this clarification. Let me, uh, try and summarize where, where we are. Uh, from, from, from the institutions, um, from the Greek authorities, there are obviously quite significantly differing perceptions of, uh, where we are. But let me first start off, uh, maybe with the question of the list. Uh, the list, uh, is for me some kind of intermediate, uh, product. I would not wish, uh, to have knowledge of it if I can avoid it somehow.

Thomas Wieser (01:19:31):

Um, and, uh, this would be, uh, in all, uh, program discussions that we have ever had, uh, a first. And I think it was with a very good reason that we have not, uh, interfered in this process between the institutions and the country, uh, concerned, uh, for very good reasons and I think our Irish and Cypriot and Portuguese and Spanish, uh, colleagues can very much, uh, testify to that fact, because generating a huge chapter and preconceived notions about what should be in the list, what should not be in the list.

Thomas Wieser (01:20:13):

How it is to be evaluated, how it is to be costed, uh, what effects on the DSA are. Uh, all of a sudden you get a viral process, uh, with, with a huge multiplier and you will never ever be able to catch this cacaphony, so quite frankly, having shot itself successfully in one knee,, this process of wanting to publish it, to me, looks a bit like looking for the second knee um. It’s something you guys don’t wanna know uh, and if you’re, uh, minister, you don’t wanna know officially. If your minister, uh, wants, uh, starts accusing you of not having it, download it from the Internet, it’s been leaked anyway. Uh, call the Financial Times, whatever.

Thomas Wieser (01:21:04):

Uh, but I would, uh, seriously counsel Nikos Theocarakis against circulating it. If Nikos Theocarakis wants to circulate it, it’s very much, it’s, it’s your decision, uh, because and, uh, be free to do it. I’m just trying to give, uh, uh, advice with only one interest in mind. That is succesful and rapid conclusion of this process, but it’s your choice, quite obviously. Secondly, uh, where do we stand. Um, we are at, more at the beginning, I think, of a process, uh, than reaching the end of a process. Uh, Nikos Theocarakis said that the teams of the three institutions were technically ill-prepared. Quite frankly, we’re nine weeks after, uh, uh, the elections. Uh, I think it will give that indeed that there have only been four days of some serious dicussions. And at least in all of my experience which covers also some decades, uh, with some relation to IMF programs and this is the first time I’ve heard this of the technical teams were ill-prepared, but there also a first, obviously.

Thomas Wieser (01:22:28):

So, uh, I think after nine weeks we, we hopefully should have now arrived at the stage, uh, [inaudible 01:22:40]. Quite obviously, the list I don’t want to know, uh, contains, uh, uh, is part of the [inaudible 01:22:50] process. It is clear from what colleagues from the institutions have said, uh, that we are still a very long way, uh, away from this being an agreed list, making full use of the flexibility that is in, in the program, of course. Uh, but first one needs to define, and I think the Greek colleagues have done this, one needs to define what do the Greek authorities want, uh, and then one needs to have an agreed process and how do we deal with all the other things, uh, that for a variety of reasons the Greek authorities, at this stage, do not feel like doing.

Thomas Wieser (01:23:34):

So it needs to, how does one deal with the [data 01:23:37] in a way. So, uh, I think, uh, what was said that the intensity and the pace, uh, of this process, especially that in Athens, need to be, need to be very, very significantly ramped up. Uh, this, this seems to be the strong, uh, impression and, uh, I think, I think Nikos Theocarakis would agree, uh, that it is important that it is intense, uh, that it is, uh, well informed, uh, that, uh, seniors [inaudible 01:24:13] from the Greek institutions, uh, participate, uh, and that, uh, people are empowered, to so say what needs to be, uh, said there.

Thomas Wieser (01:24:26):

Um, so I think, uh, uh, that this should be possible. Um, the information by the institutions that there has been quite some backtracking, uh, Nikos Theocarakis [inaudible 01:24:46] “yeah but this was on issues, uh, where we didn’t feel compelled to consult”, or something to that effect. Uh, I think this need to agree on something goes across the whole spectrum of the policy [inaudible 01:25:05] in order to come to some kind of intermediate, uh, conclusions, obviously there needs to be an, an agreed costing of measures and I’m mindful of Ricci said, uh, about, uh, the very, very [inaudible 01:25:20] estimates that the Greek colleagues have, uh, provided.

Thomas Wieser (01:25:29):

Uh, in terms of timing, in terms of timing, I am working on the assumption that colleagues, both in Athens and in Brussels, uh, will continue to work, uh, around the clock. As I don’t want to know the list, uh, I don’t know how large the data towards an intermediate solution is but from what was said today, uh, it appears not to be a matter of hours or days but more, uh, of a longer process. It also [inaudible 01:26:04] that this is not just a matter of, let’s say technical clarification, but that this would [inaudible 01:26:14] that this would require decisions presumably, uh, at the political level in Athens to include things in the list or to exclude things from the list as the case, uh, may be.

Thomas Wieser (01:26:26):

Which, uh, implies that we will, at the Euro working group, which we will be having next Wednesday, uh, another update. This is exactly another week from now so we will have an update, uh, to hear what have been the achievements in Athens, what have been the achievements in Brussels, uh, in the intervening, uh, week and I hope that these achievements will have been, uh, very, very significant.

Thomas Wieser (01:26:55):

Will they suffice in order to produce this final, uh, intermediate paper which is so comprehensive and so costed, and that it forms a very credible basis and prospective for successful conclusion of the review, I simply do not know. Uh, if you turn up for this on Wednesday one minute, uh, before the meeting starts, I will be very happy. We will postpone the meeting, uh, for an hour in order to be able to get a first look at it. So I would very, very much welcome that. Um, let us work on the assumption that maybe that maybe it would not be possible, um, because if it is possible then we take take it, uh, from there.

Thomas Wieser (01:27:47):

If it is not possible, um, as I said, uh, then, uh, the following week everybody decamps to Washington I would very much hope that the technical teams continue, uh, discussions also in Brussels may continue and then we are moving, uh, steadily towards the Eurogroup on the 24th of April in Riga.

Thomas Wieser (01:28:13):

I think it is absolutely paramount importance that we have a Euro working group, at least in this form of a conference call, at the beginning of the week so that ministers enter the Eurogroup, completely informed. As, uh, as is the case for next Wednesday, uh, I would very much hope that this very comprehensive, fully costed, uh, and mutually accepted list of measures would be available. Then, if I have not been precise enough, in previous rounds, uh, this comprehensiveness is not [inaudible 01:28:54] it is one, uh, which bears the signature of not only the Greek authorities but of the three institutions, uh, or four institutions involved that is fully clear, but I think this would’ve been clear anyway.

Thomas Wieser (01:29:11):

If that were to be the case that there is then that agreement, uh, I would, and this is recommended by the institutions, I could imagine that ministers in the Euro group produce a statement, uh, welcoming this production of a comprehensive, fully costed, mutually accepted, acceptable and positive list, uh, which should pave the way as it is so comprehensive, uh, for producing later [inaudible 01:29:50] and ultimately, after implementation and compliance reports, uh, disbursements.

Thomas Wieser (01:29:58):

So, um, there is one strand of possibility that we have this agreement reaching us by, uh, next Wednesday. That requires a huge amount of work and a fabulous, uh, speeding up of technical experts work in Athens. Uh, if that is not the case, I think our next round to do, uh, after next Wednesday, uh, would be 10 days or 12 days [inaudible 01:30:29] of the week where Riga takes place.

Thomas Wieser (01:30:35):

I think a number of suggestions have been made, uh, on the liquidity issue, I don’t think that this is the place or the time to go into that or any detail. Let me just finish by reminding our Greek colleagues, uh, that there are rules in place which govern, uh, the selection of personal through the HFSF which is required, which are required, which have been put into place by mutual consent, as part of the overall arrangement in order to ensure that the HFSF is indeed, uh, an institution which is run at arms length from any government. So this is not a political issue. This is a generic governance issue, uh, the selection procedures which involve the Euro working group have been respected in the past and if they were not respected this time around, and there are rules [inaudible 01:31:48] if they were not respected this time around, uh, I would, uh, be forced to, uh, write a letter to that effect to the President of the Euro group and that is something [crosstalk 01:31:52]

Thomas Wieser (01:31:51):

So, uh, that would be, yeah. That would be more or less how I see, uh, the process and, uh, the procedure. If there is anybody with violent, uh, disagreement with this, this is now the time, uh, to say so, uh, other than that we would be seeing each other next Wednesday, uh, and if something, uh, uh, spectacular, dramatic, of very good news, happens in the meantime, I would expect that the institutions would inform us and I could inform you in turn.

Ricci (01:32:47):

Sorry Thomas, Ricci here from [inaudible 01:32:49] technical work, uh, continuing, uh, can you have them [inaudible 01:32:57] when the authorities are ready, they do have to do preparatory work. Once they are ready, we can come back, but as of now, [inaudible 01:33:25] Thank you.

Speaker 6 (01:33:33):

Right. Thanks very much. Uh, as we, uh, are well aware [crosstalk 01:33:38] it should not be too difficult to also work online between Athens and, uh, capitals. Yes, who is it, who was that coming in?

Nikos Theocarakis (01:33:50):

Yes, uh, Nikos Theocarakis, so, uh, to make a few points. The first is regarding the HFSF, let me state that the Greek government operates perfectly within the, the bounds of legality. The second point I would like to make is about, uh, the comment that, um, it was a first that people from the IMF another institutions were not well prepared.

Nikos Theocarakis (01:34:17):

First of all, I would like to say that we have really top notch people in Athens and we value their work.

Speaker 6 (01:34:27):

We don’t have to go through the whole [crosstalk 01:34:28]

Nikos Theocarakis (01:34:29):

I just, I just say that what they said about not being well prepared, I didn’t mean like that, okay? And also regarding the, the, uh, the reform list, uh, you, you mentioned ramifications that, um, I will take into consideration certainly, I just wanted you to know that, uh, wanted other members of the Euro working group to have a feeling of, uh, the type of reforms we are proposing. But since, you know, you are saying that if this is done then this could be a problem, I’m happy to let the list stay within the members of the Brussels group.

Nikos Theocarakis (01:35:11):

But I must say that if you read lists or documents in the Internet, in cyberspace, the blogosphere, do not assume that this is the list we have submitted to the Brussels group. Okay? Thank you very much.

Speaker 6 (01:35:30):

Just a final remark, uh, Nikos Theocarakis, that’s fine if the Greek government is operating on, uh, within legality, that is extremely fine but, uh, if that includes the agreements which govern the [inaudible 01:35:51] of HFSF personnel. So, uh, we will produce a very short summary, as usual, of the call. Uh, we meet again, uh, next Wednesday and, uh, if there are any exciting news in the meantime, hopefully [inaudible 01:36:09] you will be informed forthwith.

Speaker 8 (01:36:18):

Sorry, but, uh, you recall at the very beginning, uh, the news of this, uh, EWG conference call has been reported widely, um, so they will be questions on the out of this. I think it will be highly [inaudible 01:36:40] if, uh, in a sense complementing what Thomas [inaudible 01:36:45] indicated before, you would be the one, uh, that is providing this answer and, uh, I think it would be good that we have a line to take, uh, here, being as laconic as possible, and not to speculate on different things being said or not being said, the different positions, etcetera, etcetera. I think that would be, uh, seems to me the only responsible thing to do at this stage.

Thomas Wieser (01:37:22):

No, I apologize, I had indeed, I should have, uh, mentioned that, as Thomas has said. Normally, uh, it is not common knowledge, I would have thought, uh, when we meet, that used to be the case in the monetary committee when we had extreme breaks, realignments, but those are long time, uh, gone. Um, let alone, uh, do the media know what the agenda of our meeting [inaudible 01:37:56] slightly difference this time around, and I don’t know where this publish, [inaudible 01:38:03] coverage has come from.

Thomas Wieser (01:38:06):

So, uh, if people are in agreement then I would respond just, uh, with two or three very laconic, technical sentences. I will say that the only purpose of this conference call, uh, was to be updated by the three institutions and the Greek colleagues on, uh, where, uh, the talks in Athens and in Brussels, uh, are, uh, are at.

Thomas Wieser (01:38:38):

Secondly, uh, we have taken note that there has been, uh, progress and convergence over the last days, uh, but that quite some work remains to be done in order to comfortably complete, to a successful conclusion of this, uh, part of the, uh, process.

Thomas Wieser (01:39:02):

Uh, of this part, uh, of, uh, the process, and that we stand ready, uh, to fully engage, uh, within, uh, our mandates as soon as there is, uh, agreed, uh, uh, output, which is agreed between the Greek authorities, uh, and the three institutions. I think, uh, that is, uh, within, uh, limits, uh, quite honest. It is not so stupid that people start laughing. Um, but, uh, uh, it’s a bit…

Speaker 11 (01:39:40):

[crosstalk 01:39:40] that people start laughing.

Speaker 10 (01:39:40):

… of a drift without raising too many, uh, questions, uh, which, uh, we may not want to answer.

Speaker 10 (01:39:48):

That notwithstanding, I am resigned, uh, to the fact…

Speaker 11 (01:39:51):


Speaker 10 (01:39:52):

… that very many people will be informing very many media. Uh, but this is what I’m going to say, uh, if asked, and if not asked, I will not say. That, uh, sound more or less satisfactory. Don’t engage [inaudible 01:40:10] tunic.

Speaker 11 (01:40:12):

Tell us, [inaudible 01:40:13]. May I just add to your wording and the language that… So, the aim is the successful conclusion of the current review. I guess it’s still an important point to be mentioned. Thank you.

Thomas Wieser (01:40:27):

For sure.

Speaker 12 (01:40:29):

[inaudible 01:40:29], can I say something?

Speaker 10 (01:40:30):

Um, yes.

Speaker 12 (01:40:32):

Uh, very shortly. I couldn’t agree with what you’d said about order updates. Maybe we should talk next week when we meet physically, because I think we’re not far off. If EWG calls, our meetings are, uh, in the media before, we’re not far off from the fact that I will need mandate from the foreign ministry to say something here. So I mean, this is going in the wrong direction and we cannot work anymore if everything is out in the press. So we should, we should think about it.

Speaker 12 (01:41:01):

Uh, I know it’s not your problem, it’s our problem. So sorry for having this, uh, [crosstalk 01:41:08], but we should talk about it.

Thomas Wieser (01:41:09):

Yeah, it’s a mutual problem. It’s not only your problem, it’s a mutual problem. But, uh, I think this uh, is a special case, because for some reason, I would not care to speculate who has been hyping this conference call as sort of unlocking liquidity from the ECB, and, uh, god knows what, uh, which for anybody who knows the process, uh, was, uh, quite the crazy thing. But so this has been bandied about by people who don’t know anything about the process, uh, which doesn’t help us very much. So, uh, if, uh, for the future, we can keep expectations, uh, low to the ground, uh, in our domest-, amongst our domestic audiences, uh, keep to the confidentiality, uh, which is, uh, uh, required also by our statutes. Maybe we have a short discussion of these issues, uh, of how we work, uh, um, what the confidentiality issues are, and how things are spread back home, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe we’ll have a short talk on these issues, uh, when we meet next week again.

Thomas Wieser (01:42:27):

So my preference is that, uh, none of you, uh, of course, uh, uh, produces any statements to the press. My very strong preference is that nobody asks me about it. But if I’m asked, I will respond exactly along the lines that I have just mentioned.

Thomas Wieser (01:42:48):

Okay, thanks very much. And if we don’t meet each other or hear from each other again, happy Easter, as they say, and see you next Wednesday.

Speaker 12 (01:42:59):

Bye bye.

Thomas Wieser (01:42:59):

Thanks, bye bye.

Speaker 13 (01:46:41):

Postpone the meeting of the Euro working group so they can review the letter rules [inaudible 01:46:45].

Speaker 11 (01:49:50):

[foreign language 01:49:50] We think that the program is now back on track. We don’t yet have evidence.

Speaker 12 (01:50:05):

[foreign language 01:50:05] The physical meeting, you were here [crosstalk 01:50:39].

Speaker 14 (01:50:39):

It was.

Speaker 11 (01:50:39):


Speaker 12 (01:53:02):

We see that, you know, the process is back on track.

Speaker 12 (01:59:57):

We would return it immediately.

Speaker 13 (02:00:00):

But that, that was the whole point.

Speaker 12 (02:00:03):

That was completely back on track.

Speaker 14 (02:00:06):

Progress and convergence.

Speaker 12 (02:00:08):

Progress and convergence.

Speaker 12 (02:00:32):

[foreign language 02:00:32] progress and convergence.

Speaker 11 (02:00:39):

[inaudible 02:00:39] also has been progress and convergence.

Speaker 13 (02:07:48):

If there was a [crosstalk 02:00:49].

Speaker 13 (02:07:57):

Mm- hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 13 (02:08:09):


Speaker 11 (02:08:09):


Speaker 12 (02:08:15):


Speaker 12 (02:08:15):

[foreign language 02:08:15] Melania, you’re a working group, [foreign language 02:08:20].

Speaker 12 (02:09:16):

Mm- hmm (affirmative).

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