Eurozone finance ministers met to discuss the way forward for Greece in the context of the upcoming expiry of the country's current economic adjustment programme. The discussions were based on the technical work carried out over the past few days, setting out the differences between the current programme and the plans of the Greek government.
"The best way forward is an extension of the current programme"
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Eurogroup President
"The best way forward is an extension of the current programme", said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Eurogroup President at the press conference following the meeting. He went on to highlight that there was a degree of flexibility within the programme, which could be negotiated between Greece and the institutions.
These negotiations could start when the Greek authorities submit a request for an extension of the programme accompanied by a clear set of commitments outlined by the ministers during the meeting.
Early repayment of Portugal's IMF loans
The Eurogroup gave its political endorsement to Portugal's request to make an early repayment of a portion of its loans from the International Monetary Fund. The move will allow Portugal to generate significant savings from interest payments.
Ministers discussed Cyprus' ongoing economic adjustment programme. They called on Cypriot decision-makers to implement the foreclosure legislation as quickly as possible. The law, which is a key requirement of the current programme, will let banks manage their bad loans and clear their balance sheets. This in turn will help to get credit flowing again to the economy.
The implementation of the law is necessary to bring the programme back on track.
Economic situation in the euro area
Ministers discussed the European Commission's recent winter forecast for the euro area. They reiterated the need to push ahead with structural reforms and investments to support long-term growth.
Deepening Economic and Monetary Union
The President of the Eurogroup briefed ministers on the discussions on Economic and Monetary Union held at the informal summit on 12 February 2015. Mr Dijsselbloem informed ministers about the ongoing work on the 'four presidents' report' that will set out ways of strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union.
Drafted by the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Council, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup, the report is expected to be out in June.