Greek bailout stumbles forward but disagreements remain

Jake Cordell
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Alexis Tsipras meets Jean-Claude Juncker
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker have had a difficult relationship (Source: Getty)

Greece has been given the green light to get its hands on €1.1bn from the European authorities as part of its multi-billion euro bailout programme after it successfully implemented a full package of reforms over the summer.

Eurozone finance ministers agreed today the Greek Syriza government had met all of its requirements to implement "important reforms on areas such as pensions, energy and the banking sector" to unlock the next tranche of cash.

However, the 19 Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg were unable to agree to dish out another €1.7bn to Greece as hoped, saying they lacked sufficient data to determine how the government was progressing with its programme of arrears clearance.

The partial agreement by finance ministers paves the way for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to approve the technical disbursement of the cash at its meeting in two weeks' time. The extra €1.7bn could also be approved at that meeting, but officials said: "It depends whether we get the missing information to be sure the target on net arrears clearance has been met."

In numbers: The Greek bailout

Despite agreeing a headline amount of €86bn of assistance last summer, Greece only gets its hands on the cash in tranches, or stages, depending on having met certain criteria.

Paid: Total paid out since 2011: €171bn

Agreed: Summer 2015 €86bn

Of which: €28.9bn paid out so far

Agreed: May 2016 €10.3bn (part of the €86bn programme)

Of which: €7.5bn paid out so far

Of which: €1.1bn agreed today (paid out in two weeks)

Of which: €1.7bn still to be agreed (dependent on data)

Pierre Moscovici, European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, said: "Progress on arrears clearance must and will continue. It is critical to relieving pressure on the real economy."

The group agreed that "significant progress" had been made over the summer on the issue of paying of debts, but would wait to collect the most recent data before making a final decision on whether to hand across the €1.7bn.

Read more: Greek cabinet minister attacks IMF

It is thought Germany's Wolfgang Schauble led the hard line against giving Greece the extra €1.7bn before the latest data had arrived, although Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said: "There is no reason to be disappointed. It is technical. There is no political debate or problem. The money will come, don't worry."

The €2.8bn forms the second and final part of the €10.3bn package of aid to Greece agreed earlier this year, which set out a number of measures on economic reforms for Greece to undertake.

The European institutions, along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have given €171bn of assistance to Greece since 2011.

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