The EU reached a deal to reduce Greek debt to 124 % of the GDP in 2020 through a package of extra steps amounting 20 % of GDP, that was the headline from Reuters earlier in the Asian session. Reporters, however, had to arm themselves with patience until concrete details out of Brussels came out.Once the Eurogroup press conference was on past 1am Brussels time, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurogroup, provided the first remarks to the press, saying "today we reached political agreement on next disbursement to Greece", adding that despite has been a difficult decision, "I am complimenting the Greek gov't, I am complimenting the Greek parliament".
The Eurogroup will formally decide on the disbursement December 13 if national parliaments approve tonight's deal. For now, what has been written in the draft document is that Greece aid disbursement of around €44 bln will be provided under 3 tranches. The first €34.4 bln loan is ecpected by mid December once green light from parliaments is given, and through Q1 2013 the rest, subject to implementation of its ongoing austerity program.
Juncker said "all initiatives decided today will bring Greece's debt to sustainable level..." Juncker concluded by adding IMF has fully agreed with the decisions reached and now orders member states to launch the national Parliamentary procedures.
Meanwhile, European commission president Mr. Rehn told the press that interest rates in the first bailout to Greece will be cut by 100bps in order for the country to reach 124% by 2020. Rehn also mentioned that "this political agreement removes uncertainty over Greece."
When it came to the turn of the IMF chief Ms. Christine Lagarde, she said: "I can say tonight that Greece has been brought back to sustainable path." On the controversial target for Greek debt to be at 124% of GDP by 2020, she sounded confident and even said "substantially below 110%" by 2022 can be achieved. Lagarde, on the Q&A round, also said the IMF will not release funds until the debt buyback program is finalized, although the rest of troika can provide funds sooner.
Lagarde added: "Greece has committed to get back on track." IMF left it pretty clear that the ongoing participation on the program will have certain conditionalities, the most important being that Greece hits agreed targets.
Other comments of interest came from German finance minister Mr. Schaeuble, who said he will consider "possible further measures on debt reduction" once Greece is able to hit primary surplus. Meanwhile, EU Wieser told the press "Greek program has potential to surprise on upside, corrective mechanisms in place if program surprises on downside..."
Bullet points - Eurogroup statement on Greece
After having been reassured of the authorities' resolve to carry the fiscal and structural reform momentum forward and with a positive outcome of the possible debt buy-back operation, the euro area Member States would be prepared to consider the following initiatives:
• A lowering by 100 bps of the interest rate charged to Greece on the loans provided in the context of the Greek Loan Facility. Member States under a full financial assistance programme are not required to participate in the lowering of the GLF interest rates for the period in which they receive themselves financial assistance.
•A lowering by 10 bps of the guarantee fee costs paid by Greece on the EFSF loans.
•An extension of the maturities of the bilateral and EFSF loans by 15 years and a deferral of interest payments of Greece on EFSF loans by 10 years. These measures will not affect the creditworthiness of EFSF, which is fully backed by the guarantees from Member States.
•A commitment by Member States to pass on to Greece's segregated account, an amount equivalent to the income on the SMP portfolio accruing to their national central bank as from budget year 2013. Member States under a full financial assistance programme are not required to participate in this scheme for the period in which they receive themselves financial assistance.
The Eurogroup stresses, however, that the above-mentioned benefits of initiatives by euro area Member States would accrue to Greece in a phased manner and conditional upon a strong implementation by the country of the agreed reform measures in the programme period as well as in the post-programme surveillance period.
The Eurogroup is confident that, jointly, the above-mentioned initiatives by Greece and the other euro area Member States would bring Greece's public debt back on a sustainable path throughout this and the next decade and will facilitate a gradual return to market financing. Euro area Member States will consider further measures and assistance, including inter alia lower co-financing in structural funds and/or further interest rate reduction of the Greek Loan Facility, if necessary, for achieving a further credible and sustainable reduction of Greek debt-to-GDP ratio, when Greece reaches an annual primary surplus, as envisaged in the current MoU, conditional on full implementation of all conditions contained in the programme, in order to ensure that by the end of the IMF programme in 2016, Greece can reach a debt-to-GDP ratio in that year of 175% and in 2020 of 124% of GDP, and in 2022 a debt-to-GDP ratio substantially lower than 110%.
As was stated by the Eurogroup on 21 February 2012, we are committed to providing adequate support to Greece during the life of the programme and beyond until it has regained market access, provided that Greece fully complies with the requirements and objectives of the adjustment programme.
The Eurogroup concludes that the necessary elements are now in place for Member States to launch the relevant national procedures required for the approval of the next EFSF disbursement, which amounts to EUR 43.7 bn. EUR 10.6 bn for budgetary financing and EUR 23.8 bn in EFSF bonds earmarked for bank recapitalisation will be paid out in December. The disbursement of the remaining amount will be made in three sub-tranches during the first quarter of 2013, linked to the implementation of the MoU milestones (including the implementation of the agreed tax reform by January) to be agreed by the Troika.
The Eurogroup expects to be in a position to formally decide on the disbursement by 13 December, subject to the completion of these national procedures and following a review of the outcome of a possible debt buy-back operation by Greece.