Dijsselbloem – Upcoming review to pave the way to ‘clean’ bailout exit

Goodbye to Jeroen Dijsselbloem. - at least until his next appointment - Photo euobserver.com

 Reuters – Greece must wrap up an upcoming bailout review quickly to pave the way for a “clean” bailout exit next summer without further conditions beyond standard monitoring, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday.

After seven years of austerity and rescue loans amounting to about 270 billion euros Greece hopes its third, 86 billion-euro bailout will also be its last. Greece too wants a so-called clean exit,  without further demands from the lenders, in August 2018.

We are in full agreement for that — it should be a clean exit, Greece should become financially independent again and be able take its own political decisions for the future within the family of the Eurogroup,” Dijsselbloem said in a visit to Athens.

There are no further conditions at the end of the programme, no further restrictions,” he said after meeting Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

But once Greece exits the bailout, it would be monitored by the European Stability Mechanism, a “standard procedure” in place for other member states which also emerged from bailouts, he said.

Dijsselbloem cautioned that Greece was not yet out of the woods, and would need more reforms in the coming years. The euro zone would look into granting it further debt relief.

On the stance of Germany, Greece’s main creditor, a day after Angela Merkel secured a fourth term as chancellor, he said that he did not expect Germany’s position to change in Greek bailout negotiations.
“The end of the programme is the beginning of a new phase and we should do whatever we can … to make sure that Greece is fully prepared for financial independence,” Dijsselbloem said.

“I don’t think the German elections will make a lot of difference,” he added.

The Netherlands has been without a government since the general election on March 15 and Mr Dijsselbloem, whose party lost 75% of its support, is extremely unlikely to remain in his position in the new Dutch government, when that is formed. He may however retain his position as president of the Eurogroup with the support of Schaeuble, assuming that he will remain in  his position in the new German coalition government.