Greece bailout 'troika' may go - European Commission

Anti-troika protest in Greece - file pic, 5 Nov 13 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Anti-austerity protests have accompanied the troika's visits to Athens

The European Commission says the controversial EU-IMF troika supervising Greek finances could be replaced.

The troika is a group of auditors representing the Commission, the European Central Bank and IMF.

They carry out regular checks to see if Greece is sticking to its commitments under the EU-IMF bailout agreement.

Greece's new left-wing government does not accept the troika's agenda. Instead it aims to renegotiate the bailout, to get a huge reduction in Greece's debt.

At a news conference on Monday, the Commission chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, quoted a pledge by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to replace the troika.

"In the future, we should be able to replace the 'troika' with a more democratically legitimate and more accountable structure, based around European institutions with enhanced parliamentary control both at European and at national level," Mr Juncker said in his mission statement last year.

Mr Schinas did not expand on Mr Juncker's proposal, stressing that "first we need clear understanding" of the Greek position.

Mountain of debt

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will hold talks with Mr Juncker in Brussels on Wednesday.

Mr Tsipras, leader of the radical left Syriza party, won the Greek election on 25 January on a platform rejecting the troika and vowing to pull Greece out of the austerity imposed by international lenders.

Syriza says the EU-IMF bailout conditions have impoverished Greece, fuelling unemployment and failing to reduce the massive debt pile.

Greece still has a debt of €315bn (£237bn; $357bn) - about 175% of gross domestic product - despite some creditors writing down debts in a renegotiation in 2012.

Mr Schinas called the existing bailout deal for Greece a "contract" and stressed that any revision of its terms would require "the unanimous agreement of all 19 members of the eurozone".

Greece's current programme of loans ends on 28 February. There is no agreement yet on disbursement of the final bailout tranche of €7.2bn - and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has said Athens does not want it.

Image copyright AP

Greek economy in numbers

  • Unemployment is at 25%, with youth unemployment almost 50% (corresponding eurozone averages: 11.4% and 23%)
  • Economy has shrunk by 25% since the start of the eurozone crisis
  • Country's debt is 175% of GDP
  • Borrowed €240bn (£188bn) from the EU, the ECB and the IMF