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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-13

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU to halt procedures against Greece over excessive deficits
  • [02] Olympic venues bill will boost investment
  • [03] Deputy FM briefs EU envoys on FYROM 'name issue'

  • [01] EU to halt procedures against Greece over excessive deficits

    The EU council of economy and finance ministers (ECOFIN) said Tuesday it would halt procedures against Greece over excessive deficits, and approved the country's updated Stability and Growth Programme for the period 2004-2007.

    The EU economy and finance ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, welcomed Greece's fiscal effort to reduce its excessive deficit and expressed their satisfaction over the strict implementation of this year's budget and the introduction of additional corrective measures in 2005. The council also welcomed the Greek government's pledge to bring its fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2006 and noted the Greek programme was a "significant fiscal adjustment".

    The Council said the Greek government was conforming with recommendations made by the Council in February and stressed that no further steps in a procedure over excessive deficit was needed at present.

    Earlier, Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairied a two-day meeting of the Eurogroup and ECOFIN councils, told a press conference that the Greek government was making very serious efforts to reduce its fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

    Commenting on the results of a Eurogroup meeting on Monday, which reviewed Greece's updated stability programme for the period 2004-2007, Juncker said the Council noted that the Greek government was making very serious efforts to reduce its fiscal deficit and that Greece was responding to recommendations made by the Council in previous months. Juncker said the Council agreed there was no need to take additional measures and underlined the Greek government's intention to take further measures if needed.

    EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters that the Commission concluded that Greece has conformed with a Council decision taken in February to reduce its excessive fiscal deficit by the end of 2006. Almunia noted that Greece has implemented with determination pledges included in a 2005 budget and underlined the introduction of an additional package of measures announced in March.

    The Commissioner said he expected Greek authorities to strictly implement this year's budget and to present measures in 2006 aimed to complete a fiscal adjustment programme. Almunia noted that the Commission was not considering any further action against Greece at present.

    Greek FinMin expresses satisfaction over ECOFIN decision

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction over the ECOFIN decision to approve the country's updated Stability and Growth Programme.

    Speaking to reporters in Luxembourg, Alogoskoufis said the Greek government fully agreed with the conclusions of both the European Commission and the Council and stressed the government was fully conforming with Council recommendations and that no further steps in a procedure over the country's excessive fiscal deficit were needed.

    The Greek minister noted that fiscal adjustment was significant and was the result of three factors: savings of up to 1.0 percent GDP from excluding Olympic Games' spending from the budget, a significant slowdown in the public sector's primary spending -excluding investments- leading to additional savings of up to 0.5 percent of GDP and additional measures aimed to boost revenues leading to savings of up to 1.0 percent of GDP this year.

    Alogoskoufis reiterated the Greek government's pledge to continue efforts aimed to reduce fiscal deficit in 2006 and stressed Greek authorities were in full cooperation with Eurostat to address any outstanding problems.

    Commenting on further steps towards reducing fiscal deficits, Alogoskoufis said efforts would focus on implementing structural measures in primary spending and strengthening mechanisms to combat tax evasion and smuggling. The Greek minister said ECOFIN's decision completed a round of talk over the Greek economy and noted that the next station in evaluation the country's fiscal condition was in autumn with the presentation of a draft budget plan for 2006. He expressed the hope that the draft budget plan would be positively evaluated by the Council.

    Alogoskoufis repeated Greek positions over negotiations to draft an EU budget for 2007-2013 and said the discussion reaffirmed the EU member-states' common goal to complete negotiations by June. He acknowledged, however, it was a tough negotiation as member states diverged significantly in their positions.

    The Greek minister said resolving the pension issue in the country was a very delicate issue that needed the biggest possible consensus and the cooperation of main opposition parties in parliament.

    [02] Olympic venues bill will boost investment

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said that the culture ministry's draft law regarding post-Games use of Olympic venues, will help boost entrepreneurship as well as Greek and foreign investment.

    Kyriakopoulos made his comments after being briefed on the bill - which will be tabled in Parliament shortly - by Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Tuesday.

    On her part, Palli-Petralia stressed that "the draft law aims to capitalise on the Olympic Games legacy" and to enable Greek citizens to enjoy the unique facilities which their tax money financed.

    Palli-Petralia also briefed mayors Fotis Magoulas of Markopoulo, Stelios Benetatos of Nikea and Nikos Papadimas of Ano Liossia on the draft law.

    [03] Deputy FM briefs EU envoys on FYROM 'name issue'

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis met on Tuesday with ambassadors of European Union member-states at the Luxembourg embassy in Athens, as the Grand Duchy currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

    Valinakis briefed envoys on recent developments surrounding the "name issue" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well as European issues.

    The deputy FM departs on Wednesday for Berlin, Strasbourg and Brussels, where he will have consecutive meetings with Germany's State Secretary of the federal foreign office, Klaus Scharioth; Luxembourg's Delegate Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Nicolas Schmit, as well as Javier Solana, the Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

    Valinakis is expected to brief his interlocutors about the FYROM issue and matters related to the Union's expansion.


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