Brussels eyes post-bailout support

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion matches the gov­ern­ment’s fore­cast for growth; Moscovici to visit Athens be­fore Dec 8

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s lat­est re­port backs gov­ern­ment forecasts for a Greek eco­nomic turn­around, and Brussels is de­ter­mined to help the coun­try emerge from its adjustment pro­gram, as new Eco­nomic and Mon­e­tary Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Pierre Moscovici stated yes­ter­day, un­der­lin­ing the im­por­tance of the re­form process.

Brussels con­firmed the gov­ern­ment’s ex­pec­ta­tions for the econ­omy to grow by 0.6 per­cent this year and a fur­ther in­crease of the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by 2.9 per­cent in 2015, set­ting the bar­rier as high as 3.7 per­cent for 2016.

“The growth fore­cast for 2015 is above the Euro­pean av­er­age and this gives us the hope that the re­forms are bear­ing fruit,” said Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent Jyrki Katainen, ac­knowl­edg­ing that the av­er­age cit­i­zen in Greece may not un­der­stand th­ese re­forms are tak­ing place and may not even ap­prove of them.

Moscovici said Greece can count on Brussels’s support in its exit from the bailout process, adding that the Com­mis­sion will have to take into ac­count the “evolv­ing de­mand” of the Greek gov­ern­ment for an exit, while stress­ing that Athens must con­tinue its re­forms. He con­firmed that the cru­cial de­ci­sions for Greece will be made at the Eurogroup on De­cem­ber 8 and that his first of­fi­cial trip as com­mis­sioner will be to Athens be­fore that date, as the troika and the gov­ern­ment will try to seal an agree­ment by then.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gikas Har­dou­velis was op­ti­mistic an agree­ment with the troika is near: “The fact that our cred­i­tors also talk about a new re­la­tion­ship sig­ni­fies that they are open to di­a­logue, that there is no dis­agree­ment about the pos­si­bil­ity of a pru­dent exit” by Greece from its in­ter­na­tional bailout pro­gram, he said in a TV in­ter­view on Mega Chan­nel late on Mon­day. He added that Greece is en­ti­tled to a small adjustment pe­riod, last­ing six months or one year, as in the cases of Por­tu­gal and Ire­land.

How­ever the is­sue of a fis­cal gap in 2015 is likely to form part of the up­com­ing talks with the coun­try’s cred­i­tors. Although the troika has not yet for­mal­ized its fore­cast for a gap next year, that is ex­pected to be around 2 bil­lion euros, while Athens in­sists the new bud­get shows there is no gap ex­pected.

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