Athens passes reform legislation
The measures were adopted with the votes of the opposition. Of the country’s 300 members of parliament, 229 voted for the measures and 64 against, with 6 abstentions. The heads of state and government of the 19 euro-zone states had previously agreed on an extensive reform package, thus paving the way for negotiations to begin on an ESM (European Stability Mechanism) assistance programme.
Far-reaching reforms demanded
The parliament in Athens had until Wednesday to accept a number of fundamental reforms and to endorse the document as a whole. Only then it is possible for the German Bundestag and other national parliaments to vote on the negotiations. One week later the Greek parliament will have to decide on the recapitalisation of the country’s banks.
More extensive reforms must follow within the next three years in the fields of pensions, product markets, the labour market and privatisation.
Eurogroup finance ministers agree in principle
The Eurogroup finance ministers have agreed in principle to a new three-year assistance programme for Greece. Before negotiations can begin, however, several national parliaments must give their approval, announced the Eurogroup on Thursday afternoon.
The European Central Bank (ECB) will also grant Greek banks further emergency liquidity assistance. The level of funding available, hitherto about 90 billion euros, has been raised, announced ECB President Mario Draghi following a meeting of the ECB Governing Council on Thursday in Frankfurt.
"We are one step further," says Wolfgang Schäuble
Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said, with a view to the vote in the Greek parliament, "We are one step further. These are difficult debates in Greece."
Wolfgang Schäuble called on Greece to implement the projects now. "We must keep Europe together and forge ahead. This means keeping to what has been agreed. Otherwise there can be no trust." If Greece wants assistance, it will have to do what it takes to become independent of assistance again, he added.
Commenting on the next steps to be taken, the Federal Finance Minister explained that the Eurogroup will now review the Greek legislation. "We will look and see whether Greece has passed the legislation that was required of it."
The German Bundestag will vote on Friday on whether to give the government a mandate to negotiate a third assistance package.