Greece: state of play
The institutions and the Greek Minister for Finance, Euclid Tsakalotos, briefed the Eurogroup on the next steps in implementing Greece's economic adjustment programme.
The institutions intend to start the first review of the programme implementation next week. The review is expected to focus on the following key issues:
- pension reform
- the 2016 budget
- medium-term fiscal strategy
- modernisation of Greece's public administration
- financial sector reforms
- reforms in the electricity sector
Ministers called on the Greek authorities to cooperate constructively with the institutions to ensure a smooth and thorough first review. Successful completion of this exercise would pave the way for decisions on possible debt relief measures and an IMF programme, as agreed by the heads of state or government in July 2015.
Cyprus: state of play
The Eurogroup discussed the 8th and final review of Cyprus' adjustment programme. The institutions pointed out that Cyprus had made significant progress in implementing the programme.
Cyprus is now expected to fulfil two outstanding conditions, the so-called 'prior actions', which have to be implemented to formally finalise the review. The finalisation of the review will pave the way for the final ESM disbursement of about €300 million.
The Eurogroup exchanged views on the implementation of the 2015 euro area recommendation and discussed the draft Council recommendation on economic policy of the euro area for 2016, which is scheduled to be approved by the ECOFIN Council on 15 January 2016.
Ministers agreed on five policy priorities for the euro area in 2016-2017, based on a European Commission proposal:
- structural reforms
- supporting employment
- sound fiscal policies
- reducing debt
- continuing the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union
The recommendation will be submitted for endorsement to the European Council and then formally adopted by the Council.
IMF Article IV consultation with the euro area
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) informed the Eurogroup about the main findings of its interim mission in the context of the IMF Article IV consultation, which took place in the first half of December 2015.
The Eurogroup agreed with the IMF's evaluation of the economic outlook for the euro area and of its policy challenges.
The final mission will take place and the full report will become available later in the year.
Thematic discussion on growth and jobs: national insolvency frameworks
In line with the 2015 euro area recommendation, the Eurogroup exchanged views on national insolvency frameworks and their application, which differ widely across member states.
The Eurogroup agrees that the insolvency frameworks issue is particularly relevant for the euro area, especially in addressing the debt overhang, and also because the euro area economies are prone to spill-over effects.
The Eurogroup discussed individual countries' experiences in reforming national insolvency frameworks. Ministers agreed that in this context it would be useful to establish a set of common principles and benchmarks to improve efficiency and effectiveness of these frameworks, and agreed to continue the discussion in spring 2016.
It is a sign of strong cooperation from the euro area.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem informed ministers that all euro area member states which are currently participating in the AIIB have agreed to form a single euro area constituency in the bank.