ROME (Reuters) - Greece is not moving fast enough to draw up and implement structural reforms and there is limited time to prevent it running out of cash, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday.
The mood between Greece’s newly elected leftist government and its euro zone partners has been tense during negotiations that will determine whether the cash-strapped country gets further, much-needed financial aid from its EU/IMF lenders.
“Talks are very complicated. Time is running out,” Dombrovskis told Reuters in an interview. “Greece should come up with an ambitious reform list in line with its bailout program and also start to implement it,” he said.
A meeting of deputy finance ministers — called the Euro Working Group — on Thursday gave Athens a deadline of six working days to present a revised economic reform plan, before euro zone finance ministers meet on April 24 to decide whether to unlock emergency funding to keep Greece afloat.
Dombrovskis noted that April 24 was not a formal deadline to reach a deal with Greece, but the country’s financial difficulties were pressing.
Technical teams from Greece and its international lenders held a teleconference on Saturday to outline the agenda of talks over the next few days, a Greek finance ministry official said at the weekend.
Dombrovskis said euro zone finance ministers had done their best to be flexible, but Greece now also had to do more.
“If the Greek government does not like some of the program measures it is possible to replace them with other measures with equal fiscal value,” he said.
“The Eurogroup has also indicated at the possibility to look at Greece’s primary surplus targets without undermining debt sustainability, so there are number of steps the Eurogroup has indicated it is willing to take to facilitate an agreement.”
In other comments, Dombrovskis said the recent sharp depreciation of the euro against the dollar reflected the different monetary policy stances of the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve.
The euro remains “quite far” from its historic lows against the dollar, noted Dombrovskis, a Latvian whose responsibilities at the Commission include overseeing the euro.
writing by Gavin Jones, editing by Jeremy Gaunt, Larry King