Greece: state of play
The institutions (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Stability Mechanism) and Greek Minister for Finance Euclid Tsakalotos briefed the Eurogroup on the second review of Greece's economic adjustment programme, where the main outstanding issues include the medium-term (in 2018 and beyond) fiscal strategy and labour market reform.
The Eurogroup welcomed the common understanding reached between the Greek authorities and the institutions, which allows the review mission to return to Athens and resume work in order to conclude a staff-level agreement on policy reforms in the context of the second review of the programme.
A staff-level agreement is a necessary condition for the successful conclusion of reviews and therefore for receiving financial support.
Thematic discussion on growth and jobs: ease of doing business
Ministers shared national best practices for creating favourable conditions for doing business, which has a significant influence on the economy's growth potential. The discussion focused on matters such as efficiency of public services as well as administrative and regulatory burden.
The outcome of the discussion will serve as a background to the Eurogroup's discussion on investment in April this year.
Economic forecast for the euro area in 2017-2018
The Eurogroup exchanged views on the economic situation in the euro area, following the European Commission's presentation of its winter 2017 economic forecast.
The euro area recovery is in its fourth consecutive year, with GDP growth at 1.7% at the end of 2016. The unemployment rate was 9.6%, which is the lowest rate since May 2009. The government deficit and debt diminished too.
According to the forecast, the economic recovery in the euro area is set to continue, although uncertainty surrounding the outlook has increased. Real GDP growth is expected to reach 1.6% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018.
Ministers broadly agreed with the European Commission's analysis.
At its meeting, which took place in the margins of the Eurogroup, the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) reappointed Klaus Regling as Managing Director of the ESM for a second five-year term, which will start on 8 October 2017.