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Greece

Greek lender mission chiefs resume reform talks in Athens

Protesters from the Communist-affiliated trade union PAME take part in a demonstration against a set of planned pension reforms in Athens

By Francesco Guarascio

Greece’s international lenders are resuming talks in Athens with the aim of concluding a review of Greek reforms “as soon as possible”, the European Commission said on Monday.

Talks on the review of Greek reforms needed to get more bailout money have dragged on for months partly because the International Monetary Fund and European Union institutions cannot agree between themselves on some assumptions and scenarios of how the Greek economy might develop.

A spokeswoman for the Greek government said a preliminary deal can be reached this week before a regular meeting of eurozone finance ministers (Eurogroup) in Amsterdam on April 22, but the Commission avoided setting a clear date for an agreement.

“Following constructive talks in Washington, the mission chiefs are returning to Athens today and tomorrow. The aim of the mission remains to conclude the first review of the programme as soon as possible,” a Commission spokesman told a news conference in Brussels.

International lenders and the Greek authorities were in contact last week in Washington during the IMF’s meetings.

The Eurogroup meeting this week “will be an important moment to take stock of progress made,” the Commission’s spokesman said, declining to say when an agreement was likely to be reached.

Eurozone lenders and the IMF are divided on some targets set out in the latest Greek bailout, notably a primary surplus goal of 3.5 per cent of GDP for 2018 and beyond. The IMF says it is unrealistic to expect Greece to keep such a surplus for decades.

“The budgetary targets fixed last summer for the period after 2018 must be respected,” the Commission spokesman said.

The Greek spokeswoman said the government would submit to parliament in the coming days bills on pension and tax reform.

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