ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and its lenders discussing a third multi-billion-euro bailout deal have agreed that pension reforms will affect only those who retired after the end of June, labor ministry officials said on Monday.
When creditors agreed in July to negotiate a deal aimed at keeping it afloat and in the euro zone, Greece committed to implementing major reforms, such as scrapping early retirement, by the end of October.
Lenders want, for example, an increase in the retirement age to 67 from the nominal 62 that falls significantly depending on the number of years worked and family status.
The bailout, worth up to 86 billion euros needs to be settled by Aug. 20 if Greece is to pay off debt of 3.5-billion-euro to the European Central Bank that matures that day.
On Monday, representatives from Greece’s creditors — the ECB, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and euro zone rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism — met labor minister George Katrougalos at his office.
“It has been accepted and is not being questioned that all pension rights established by June 30 will not be hurt,” a labor ministry official said.
For his part, Katrougalos told the semi-state Athens News Agency: “With regards to labor issues, the aim of the Greek side is to define and adopt the best practices based on the European social model, (and) to reverse the deregulation achieved in five years of bailouts.”
The labor ministry official said that Greece will specify pension reforms by October, and submit proposals on labor issues by the end of the year.
Greece is holding most top-level talks with its lenders at a central Athens hotel. Past visits by mission chiefs at government departments have been characterized by some critics locally as a violation of the country’s sovereignty.
In a gesture of goodwill, Katrougalos invited the negotiators to have talks at his ministry on Monday.
Technical teams also met on Monday to discuss tax, justice and corruption issues. Finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos will meet Greek lenders’ representatives on Tuesday to discuss setting up a new Greek privatization fund and banks recapitalization, a government official said on condition of anonymity.
The two sides will meet again on Wednesday to close the first round of bailout talks, the official added.
EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he was encouraged by progress so far and called on Greece to soon adopt measures agreed at a summit in July to secure new aid.
“I am counting on our Greek partners to adopt an ambitious agenda so that we can stick to an ambitious schedule,” he said in an interview with Ethnos newspaper. “If all parties deliver on their commitments of July 12, then a deal can be achieved.”
The leftist government of Alexis Tsipras legislated last month for tax hikes, bail-in rules for banks and justice system reforms as part of a series of actions necessary to start negotiations for a new aid package.
Editing by Michele Kambas and Ralph Boulton