Athens Digest 01.04.2019

• Greece expecting positive outcome at Friday’s Eurogroup

• Mission chiefs postpone their visit to Athens until after the Easter holidays

• Bruegel think tank deputy director says dangers still loom for Greece

• Piraeus Bank announces solid performance in 2018

# Greece appears confident that Friday’s Eurogroup will approve around EUR 1 billion in debt relief after the law for the protection of over-indebted borrowers from foreclosures was passed comfortably in Parliament on Friday with a majority of 194 in the 300-seat House. The law replaced the legal framework of the so-called Katselis law. Under pressure from Greece’s creditors, the government submitted an amendment to the bill on Thursday stipulating changes that include stricter eligibility for protection in the case of corporate loans secured against the borrower’s primary residence. The changes are seen as the last compromise with the European institutions, especially the European Central Bank, that pave the way for a positive assessment at the Eurogroup.

# Meanwhile, the third enhanced surveillance report for Greece will be released in June after the European Parliament elections on May 26 and will probably be discussed during July’s Eurogroup meeting. Mission chiefs look set to postpone their visit to Athens until after the Easter holidays, most probably on May 6, which means that, until then, technical staff will gather all relevant data. The third report is expected to coincide with the CSR (country specific recommendations) for Greece, in the framework of the European semester.

# The deputy director of the Bruegel think tank, Maria Demertzis, has warned of dangers that still lurk for Greece, noting that it is still in search of a stable growth model to shield itself against potential future shocks.In an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, she said the country’s institutional setup does not provide investors with certainty that their investment will deliver. “So, even though I think we have come out of danger, that does not mean that there is a stable model of growth which convinces foreign investors,” she said.

# Piraeus Bank announced that financial results for 2018 showed a pre tax profit of EUR 80mn reversing a period of annual losses. Greece’s largest lender also said that there was a significant NPE reduction over the past year (-EUR5.5bn) and that deposits in Greece were up by €3.6bn yoy. Moreover, it added that 94-percent of the internal capital generating actions have been concluded.

On Our Radar: KINAL seeks to pick up where PASOK left off
The center-left alliance (KINAL) sought to brandish its socialist credentials at its conference at the weekend with repeated references to its major component party PASOK and its founder Andreas Papandreou. With the approval of its new charter, KINAL is attempting a new start – after months of inner turmoil – as the continuation of PASOK, which dominated Greek politics in the 80s,90s and in early 2000. However, PASOK bore the brunt of the Greek financial crisis with a slump in its popularity, making way for the rise of leftist SYRIZA. The conference was addressed by EC Vice President Frans Timmermans, the European Socialists candidate to become next EC President.