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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-10

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Eurozone growth rate uncertain

  • [01] Eurozone growth rate uncertain

    More time will be needed for the recovery of European economy, a forecast likely to be confirmed by the European Commission in its spring estimates in May, Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said in Brussels on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, after an ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, Papathanassiou said hopes of exiting the economic crisis were rolled over to 2010 and noted that fiscal deficits in EU member-states would rise by an average 2.5 pct.

    Commenting on the Greek economy, the minister said economic growth rates this year were uncertain, as for all Eurozone member-states. He emphasized that the government did not examine raising VAT rates and noted that the incomes policy would be discussed this month. Responding to reporters‚ questions whether the government was promoting new tax measures, Papathanassiou said measures were taken each day and in many cases there were of structural nature aimed to cutting spending and improving tax collection, something the European Commission also wished. The Greek minister said the Commission on March 25 would publish its recommendations over returning fiscal deficits below 3.0 pct of GDP in Greece, Spain, France and Ireland. These recommendations would be discussed by an informal ECOFIN meeting in Prague, April 4.

    Ecofin recommendations

    The EU finance ministers‚ council made four economic policy recommendations to Greece, based on the European Commission‚s recommendation over the country‚s updated Stability Program for the period 2008-2011.

    The first recommendation envisages the strengthening of fiscal consolidation efforts in 2009, the second improving Greek economic competitiveness, the third improving a tax collect mechanism and control of state spending and the fourth ensuring a long-term viability of fiscal ecocomics through reforms in the health and pension systems.

    The European Commission, generally, acknowledged that fiscal imbalances in Greece were largely attributed to an international economic crisis and noted that the country had limited room for fiscal stimulus measures because it was not in recession and it was burdened by high public debt.

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