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Euro zone agrees to restart talks with Greece on bailout reforms

Euro zone finance ministers decided on Monday to send experts back to Athens to negotiate a deal with Greek authorities on the tax, labour and pension reforms needed to disburse new funds under the country’s bailout, the head of the Eurogroup said.

Creditors’ representatives, including the International Monetary Fund, will go back to the Greek capital to discuss an “additional package of structural reforms,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a news conference after a regular monthly meeting of euro zone ministers in Brussels.

He said a deal will be necessary on tax, pensions and labour market regulations.

He added that “there will be a change in the policy mix, moving perhaps away from austerity and putting more emphasis on reform.”

“The agreement includes the inviolable condition that was set by the Greek side for not even one euro more of austerity,” a Greek government official said.

Greece accepted to legislate reforms which would be adopted from Jan. 1, 2019 onwards, on condition that the fiscal impact would be neutral, the official said.

Talks over Greece’s bailout had stalled over delays in reforms by Athens, and disagreements among lenders themselves on whether the International Monetary Fund would participate in the bailout, brokered in mid-2015 and worth up to 86 billion euros.

A euro zone finance minister in discussions in Brussels told Reuters: “There was no substantial discussion but an agreement for the Institutions to return. Good news under the circumstances.”

The Greek official did not refer to the possibility of the IMF being part of the bailout.

The official said technocrats representing the lenders would return to Athens immediately after Feb. 27 with a view to ‘concluding a staff level agreement within a few days’. (Reuters)

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