The ECOFIN decided on Tuesday to launch excessive deficit procedures for Portugal and Spain. Greece’s Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos argued against the decisions, but did not have sufficient backing to block the procedures against both countries, that Tsakalotos notes had shown improved performance and were “on the right track.”
A press release following the ECOFIN notes that sanctions will be triggered, including fines at 0.2 percent of their GDPs though Spain and Portugal can submit reasoned requests within 10 days for a reduction of these.
Greece was not discussed during the meeting, however Tsakalotos expressed confidence that the second review of Greece’s program would proceed rapidly in statements made at the end of the ECOFIN Council on Tuesday.
Tsakalotos expressed confidence that there will be rapid progress for Greece and that each review for the country would be easier than the one before. “Greece stands to gain by rapidly implementing the program,” said Tsakalotos, commenting when asked whether Greece was ready to implement the prior actions that will unlock 2.8 billion euros in loans in the autumn and begin the second review. Delaying the process would profit Greece nothing, he added, stating that Athens must not be seen to be the culprit if there are delays.
Regarding a letter that he had recently sent to the institutions on how to improve cooperation between the Greek authorities and the staff-level teams, Tsakalotos said that this mainly referred to procedural issues that will be discussed in a preparatory discussion with the institutions ahead of the second review.