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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-12-09

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Commission 'acutely aware' of problems on Greek islands; will examine Tsipras' measures further-spox
  • [02] Regling: Short-term measures on Greek debt can start being implemented on Jan. 2017-media

  • [01] Commission 'acutely aware' of problems on Greek islands; will examine Tsipras' measures further-spox

    BRUSSELS (ANA/C. Vasilaki) – The European Commission took note of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' intention to provide relief to Greek islanders who have been hit by refugee flows but will need to examine those measures closely before commenting further, spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said on Friday during a regular press briefing in Brussels.

    Breidthardt was commenting on aid measures announced by the Greek premier on Thursday night, which include providing economic aid to low-income pensioners and keeping VAT rates unchanged - instead of increasing them - for the duration of the refugee crisis.

    "The European Commission took note of the declaration yesterday by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and of his commitment to abide by the program's objectives. Let me stress that the Commission is acutely aware of the challenges for the Aegean islands from large migration inflows and that the Commission has been actively working with the Greek authorities to alleviate the burden. The Commission is willing to consider proposals of the Greek authorities and how this can best be achieved taking into account MoU commitments," she said.

    "Let me also recall that the program includes clear commitments to discuss all measures related to program objectives with the institutions in advance and commitments on how to handle situations of over performance to agreed primary surplus targets. The Commission will discuss the way forward with the other institutions," she said.

    Asked if the Commission knew about the announcement made by the Greek government, Breidthardt responded negatively, saying the body will now need to examine Tsipras' measures.

    "The Commission was not made aware of all the details of the announcement before they were made and therefore we will need to study them before commenting any further or acting further," she said.

    [02] Regling: Short-term measures on Greek debt can start being implemented on Jan. 2017-media

    The short-term measures adopted by the Eurogroup this week to relieve Greece's debt could start being implemented from January 2017, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Klaus Regling, said in an interview with Greek news website, published on Friday.

    "Eurogroup adopted the proposals I made on Monday - the whole package. It will start being implemented from this point onward. We need some formal legal decisions by our boards, but this will happen in the next few weeks. And then the implementation will start. Some of the measures that can be implemented quickly are to extend the weighted average maturity of loans from 28 to 32.5 years. We can probably do this in January," he was quoted as telling the financial news website.

    Asked whether Greece will be able to gradually return to the markets in 2017, Regling reiterated his view that this could happen if the implementation of the program is continued.

    "I have said before that there is a good possibility for this. I cannot say exactly when. I agree with what I've heard from the Greek government. That there must be a bond issue before the end of the [bailout] program, which is in August 2018," he said. "

    Concerning the progress in the ongoing second program review and why there was no staff-level agreement at the Eurogroup, the head of the ESM said significant progress was made and institutions will continue their work with the Greek government.

    "We already have a common view on some issues, as the Eurogroup made clear in its statement and as the president of the Eurogroup said in the press conference. In particular, there is agreement with the European institutions on the 2017 budget which confirms the main target for a surplus of 1.75 percent of GDP," he noted.

    "But we still don't have a full agreement on 2018. There's a small fiscal gap for the achievement of the agreed targets for 2018. And we have to see more reforms for boosting growth and cost competitiveness, such as opening closed professions and removing obstacles to investment. Also, the administration of the privatization fund is not yet in place," he added.

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