EU urges re­forms, con­sen­sus

Brus­sels pushes gov’t to launch pri­va­ti­za­tion drive, se­cure op­po­si­tion back­ing; ND re­buffs ap­peal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials yes­ter­day in­creased the pres­sure on the Greek gov­ern­ment to raise much-needed rev­enue by push­ing through an am­bi­tious pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram, and to seek con­sen­sus with its po­lit­i­cal ri­vals for an on­go­ing aus­ter­ity drive – a pro­posal that was all but re­buffed by the con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy.

“Greece must rapidly pri­va­tize 50 bil­lion eu­ros of as­sets so that its medium-and long-term pub­lic debt be­comes sus­tain­able, be­cause at the mo­ment it is un­sus­tain­able,” Lux­em­bourg’s prime min­is­ter and the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, told Euro­pean Union fi­nance min­is­ters in Brus­sels.

Sources told Kathimerini that Greece’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gior­gos Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou pre­sented his peers in Brus­sels with data show­ing the progress of aus­ter­ity mea­sures im­ple­mented by Greece so far but that that they were largely unim­pressed. There was re­port­edly a feel­ing among many EU min­is­ters that Greece’s rul­ing So­cial­ist gov­ern­ment does not have the po­lit­i­cal will to im­ple­ment re­forms and that it must seek po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus. Euro­pean Mon­e­tary Af­fairs Com­mis- sioner Olli Rehn gave voice to these con­cerns yes­ter­day, in­di­cat­ing that any fu­ture aid for Greece would be de­pen­dent on the gov­ern­ment se­cur­ing back­ing for new mea­sures from all par­ties. “It is pos­si­ble for Por­tu­gal and Ire­land; why not for Greece?” Rehn said, re­fer­ring to the two other eu­ro­zone coun­tries that have re­ceived EU bailout pack­ages and where po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus has been greater (though in these cases the aus­ter­ity mea­sures taken have been less se­vere).

ND leader An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras ap­peared to all but rule out the prospect of con­sen­sus yester- day, call­ing the mid-term aus­ter­ity pro­gram, which is to be sub­mit­ted in Par­lia­ment in the next few days, “demon­stra­bly wrong.” Emerg­ing from a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Karo­los Papou­lias, Sa­ma­ras told re­porters: “Agree­ment, of course, ex­ists with Europe on the tar­gets to lower the deficit and the na­tional debt. To this we say yes. How­ever, to sup­port a demon­stra­bly wrong for­mula, we say no.” Sa­ma­ras, who last week un­veiled his party’s own al­ter­na­tive eco­nomic pro­gram, sug­gested that ND would sup­port some mea­sures if they were “good for the coun­try.”

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