PM’S EU bud­get re­lief

Sa­ma­ras con­tent with package, which will see Greece re­ceive up to 18.3 bln eu­ros

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece will re­ceive up to 18.3 bil­lion eu­ros from the Euro­pean Union’s com­mon bud­get be­tween 2014 and 2020 – an in­crease on what Athens had ex­pected a few months ago but a sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion on the last sup­port package, as the 28-state block at­tempts to rein in its ex­penses.

“Un­der dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, we achieved the best we pos­si­bly could,” said Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras af­ter talks that lasted about 30 hours as North­ern Euro­pean coun­tries pressed for the over­all bud­get to be re­duced. “It is a de­ci­sion that is a psy­cho­log­i­cal boost for us all.”

Greece is to re­ceive 14.5 bil­lion eu­ros as part of the com­mu­nity sup­port frame­work, while an­other 1.8 bil­lion eu­ros will be forth­com­ing for ru­ral devel­op­ment, but not the agri­cul­tural sub­si­dies that had been paid in the past. Athens is also set to be given about 2 bil­lion eu­ros more in 2016, when its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the EU bud­get will be re­assessed due to its dra­matic re­ces­sion.

The package is sub­stan­tially less than the last one, when Greece re­ceived 25 bil­lion eu­ros. This re­flects the over­all trim­ming of the EU bud­get by about 3 per­cent to 960 bil­lion eu­ros. Greece was also ham­pered by the fact that the pay­ments were cal­cu­lated based on pre-cri­sis GDP lev­els.

The struc­tural funds will be in­vested in a range of ar­eas, in­clud­ing in­fra­struc­ture projects and schemes to com­bat youth un­em­ploy­ment. The EU’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fund­ing of some of th­ese projects will reach 80-90 per­cent due to the poor state of the coun­try’s econ­omy.

“Although the over­all EU bud­get was re­duced, Greece achieved the big­gest in­crease in com­par­i­son to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s pro­pos­als, which was for us to re­ceive 11.2 bil­lion eu­ros,” said Sa­ma­ras. “We re­main con­cerned about the fu­ture of Europe. The Union can­not be strength­ened when its fund­ing is weak­ened.”

In an­nual terms, the EU bud­get amounts to 1 per­cent of to­tal eco­nomic out­put in the bloc. “We sim­ply could not ig­nore the ex­tremely dif­fi­cult eco­nomic re­al­i­ties across Europe, so it had to be a leaner bud­get,” said Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Her­man Van Rom­puy.

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