BRUSSELS — European finance ministers insisted Wednesday on much tighter oversight of Greece’s spending and austerity efforts, despite politicians’ assurances that Athens will go ahead with promised cuts and reforms to secure a (euro) 130 billion ($170 billion) bailout.
Following a 3 1/2 hour conference call between the finance chiefs of the 17 countries that use the euro, the ministers welcomed the debt-ridden country’s declaration that it had identified another (euro) 325 million ($470 million) in cuts on top of the layoffs of thousands of public workers and other wage and pension cuts.
They also greeted written commitments from leaders of the two Greek parties that make up the coalition government to implement the promised cuts and reforms even if there is a change in power after elections expected in April.
But in a sign of deep distrust that has built up — especially among rich nations like Germany, the Netherlands and Finland — Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg who also chairs the finance ministers’ meetings, said the eurozone needed better ways to track Greek spending before new aid could be released.
“Further considerations are necessary” to ensure better surveillance of Greek finances, Juncker said, stressing that the new oversight had to ensure “priority is given to debt servicing.”