Institutions present draft agreement to Athens as negotiations continue

The representatives of the institutions on Sunday presented the government with a draft agreement for completing the second review. According to a finance ministry official, this included some “open issues” on which staff-level negotiations were continuing.
The biggest differences between the two sides were in labour issues and some matters linked to the fiscal gap and education, the finance ministry source said. The source reported a difference of 50 million euros between the two sides regarding 2017, noting that this would not be a problem for the new draft budget to be tabled in Parliament on Monday.
For 2018, however, the institutions insist on a fiscal gap of 600 million euros, as they did during the first round of talks in Athens.
The government’s financial team aims to have brought the negotiation to such a stage by next Tuesday, when the institutions’ missions are scheduled to conclude the second round of talks, that it is possible to reach agreement from a distance.
Sources noted that the ‘deadline’ for concluding the second review is still the December 5 Eurogroup meeting, where Athens expects an agreement on measures to relieve Greek debt that are also linked to the size of primary surpluses after 2019.
The government’s aim was to have a staff-level agreement by the time the EuroWorking Group convenes on November 28, which can then be ratified by the Eurogroup on December 5, allowing progress in the talks for debt relief and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) participation in the programme.
Labour Minister Efi Achtsioglou was the first to resume talks with the institutions’ missions, in a meeting at 13:00 on Sunday. According to sources, the labour ministry’s main goal was to extract an agreement for restoring collective labour negotiations and the “extensibility” of sectoral labour contracts. One of the thorniest issues in the talks, according to sources, was the IMF’s insistence on increasing the upper limit for mass lay-offs.
A meeting between the institutions and the government’s financial team on the fiscal issues in 2017-2018 was due to begin at 15:30, while the meeting on education issues is planned for 18:00.