European finance ministers have agreed on the details of a relatively small investment and reform budget within the euro area, which will start operating in 2021.
The euro zone budget, known as the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC), is expected to be finalized next year and start operating in 2021, Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said on Thursday.
Finance Minister Christos Staikouras will present the priorities of the new Greek government at Friday's Eurogroup meeting before sending a letter to the European Stability Mechanism informing Greece's main creditor of Athens' intention to repay some of the loans from the International Monetary Fund ahead of schedule.
The head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Klaus Regling, has left open the prospect of Greece not lowering its tax-free threshold as it agreed to with creditors, but Regling also signaled that the incoming Greek government's aim of lowering of primary surplus targets is at the moment hardly a sure thing.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos chose to skip last week's Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, where serious criticism was expressed against Greek government decisions. The minister's explanation for staying in Athens was that Greece would not be on the agenda of the eurozone finance ministers' talks, which he knew was not the case.
The finance ministers of the 19-member Eurozone have decided to postpone disbursing 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) to Greece.
The reason for postponing the payment is that Greece has not yet changed the provisions of a law protecting debtors' main housing property from creditors to the EU's satisfaction.
The state has ceased paying off its debts to its suppliers after the country exited the bailout program in the summer. Instead of diminishing, the state's dues increased slightly in October, as the government's is obviously prioritizing the payment of social dividends and covering the ruling party's promises.
Eurozone finance ministers agreed to introduce by 2022 new rules that would facilitate the restructuring of public debt in the bloc's countries, the chairman of the Eurogroup Mario Centeno said on Tuesday.
New rules on so-called single limb Collective Action Clauses will be introduced by 2022, Centeno said after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels. [Reuters]