Eurozone grants new loan to Greece and work on debt relief measures

Athens taking steps towards successful bailout conclusion

Euro zone creditors will disburse new loans to Greece this month and are working on debt relief measures, the head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers said on Monday, moves that should help strengthen the Greek recovery.

Eurogroup ministers approved the third review of Greece's bailout programme on Monday, putting the country on course to exit its bailout in June. This will allow Greece to assess other loans and raise money from the worldwide markets.

Economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici warned that the fourth programme remained hard, involving 88 more reforms, but he expressed confidence that Greece would get it over the line.

Among the remaining actions are further privatisations and liberalisations of the gas and electricity markets.

Technical talks are already ongoing on one of the possible measures that would grant Greece additional debt relief after it benefited from extensions of its debt maturities and other short-term aid in past years. "The program ends in August, the deadlines are tight and our goal is that everything is over by June 21st".

The work on reform has been focused on the reform of the bloc's bailout fund European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the completion of the Banking Union.

Among the options being discussed is making any funds that remain unused after the bailout program ends on 20 August, estimated to be up to €27 billion, available for use, or alternatively returning profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds.

The debate on conditionality is still wide open.

Without a financial safety net Greece could face market pressure that would increase debt servicing costs.

Global developments will also play a role, as they may well affect Greece's full return to the markets, along with the banks' stress tests whose results will be announced on May 5.

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