World Economy

Germany Wants Greece to Ditch Promises

Germany Wants Greece to Ditch PromisesGermany Wants Greece to Ditch Promises

Germany wants Greece’s new left-wing government to go back on anti-austerity promises made in its first days in office and revert to economic policies its predecessors’ agreed with international lenders, a document showed on Wednesday.

The document, seen by Reuters, was prepared by Berlin for a meeting of senior eurozone finance officials on Thursday. The officials are to discuss the currency bloc’s response to Greek demands for an official debt write-off or restructuring, an end to budget cuts and a reversal of some recent unpopular measures. The German document stressed that Athens must not roll back any of the cutbacks and reforms made so far in Greece’s efforts to improve bloated public finances and regain market trust.

The new government led by the far left Syriza party, elected on Jan. 25, is to formally unveil its program this weekend.

But ministers have already pledged publicly to raise the minimum wage, halt unpopular sales of national assets, rehire public sector workers fired without cause and reinstate a Christmas bonus for poor pensioners.

“The EU needs a clear and front-loaded commitment by Greece to ensure full implementation of key reform measures necessary to keep the program on track,” the German document said, referring to euro zone finance ministers.

“The aim is the perpetuation of the agreed reform agenda (no roll back of measures), covering major areas as the revenue administration, taxation, public financial management, privatization, public administration, health care, pensions, social welfare, education and the fight against corruption.” The Syriza government is seeking to renegotiate the conditions for financial support from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund to regain more independence in economic policy making and more margin to boost growth.

It also wants to end the monitoring of reforms by the Troika -- inspectors from the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank -- whose quarterly visits have become synonymous for many Greeks with the loss of sovereignty.