From Malta to Washington
The much-touted Malta agreement, at Eurogroup level for the negotiations over the second review of the Greek Adjustment Programme to proceed anew is a peculiar beast. Rather than an agreement, it should be described as the formal recognition of the necessity not to disagree.
As time flows (and the Easter vacation starts where both Orthodox Athens and Catholic/Protestant Brussels grind to a halt, while the April 21-23 IMF jamboree approaches) it is getting clear that the kernel of the Malta agreement is to buy time - for all concerned.
The technical staff will be back in Athens for - well, technical - talks; the main Troika/Quartet will follow the perspective of a de facto extension of the current Adjustment Programme (that ends August 2018) for 2019 and 2020 is near, since fiscal measures of some 2% of GDP have been accepted by the Greek Government for these years (pension cuts for 2019, tax hikes for 2020 - with the IMF-friendly proviso that were the performance for 2018 be negative, then the 2020 measures would come crashing to 2019).
In consideration for such a steep climb of Sisyphus, "counter-measures" of a balancing nature (and of social character) were in principle agreed - now to be formalised, and agreement to be reached on how such counter-measures would be triggered. Moreover, the harsh-and-improbable-to-hold-under-any-conditions goal of a 3.5% primary surplus over 10 years will be renegotiated; plus "substantial medium-term measures" will be more-or-less announced or described (to IMF satisfaction) for Greek debt relief.
From Malta to Washington where the IMF session will take place and the intentions of the Trump Administration towards "Europe" will become known, the path is long and may prove tortuous. At any rate, one more Ladies' Summit will shed some light: Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde will be meeting today, with "the Greek issue" once more on their agenda.