Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

EU task force in Athens denies harming Greek sovereignty

The EU task force advising the Greek government on reforms demanded by international lenders defended its legitimacy on Wednesday (26 October), saying it is not eroding the country's sovereignty, just hours after Germany demanded "permanent" foreign supervision of Athens.

Headed by a German EU official, Horst Reichenbach, the 25-strong task force was launched on 20 July, just one day ahead of an EU summit paving the way for a second Greek bail-out under strict reform demands notably from Germany, the largest contributor to the eurozone lifelines.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Hospital shortages: EU bureaucrats say they want to help, not dictate Greek policy (Photo: Pinch TV)

Speaking to media in Athens on Wednesday, Reichenbach set out areas his team is focusing on: health care and public administration reforms, tax collection and increased spending of EU structural funds.

Amid reports of shortages of medicine, hospital equipment and blood, the German official said his team was ready to help the Greek health ministry in "reducing the expenditure for pharmaceuticals" because "Greece has much higher expenditure for pharma than other member states."

Reichenbach insisted that his work was not to "rubberstamp" or "criticise" plans by the Greek ministers, but to facilitate expertise and help from the EU commission and member states. For instance, experts from France and Germany could help Greek magistrates in changing the system so as to accelerate court cases, he said.

"Clearly, concerns about sovereignty should be taken seriously," he said in response to a question. "The justification of the task force lies in the fact that the Prime Minister of Greece has asked for such support from the European Commission," he explained.

"If it had been the commission who took the initiative and imposed it on Greece I would feel much less convinced this is the way to go ahead," he added.

The task force was however a plan floated by EU commission chief Barroso and "supported by the 23-24 June European council consultations with Prime Minister Papandreou," according to a statement by the EU commission itself.

Earlier on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spelled out her vision for the future in Greece: even more foreign supervision.

"It's not enough that the troika [EU-IMF-ECB] comes and goes every three months. It would be desirable to have a permanent supervision in Greece," she told the Bundestag before flying to Brussels where she intended to bring this up.

A spokesman for the Greek mission in Brussels refused to comment on the Merkel statements and only said that the EU task force was asked for by his Prime Minister.

EU task force for Greece ‘here to help, not control’

The head of an EU task force for Greece said on Thursday that the aim of the newly established body is to support the country as it attempts to slash its public debts. The team arrived in Athens as fresh figures put unemployment in the country at a record 16.3 percent, with 32.9 percent of young people out of work.

Germany makes Greece pay with sovereignty for new bail-out

Greek sovereignty was taken down another peg by eurozone leaders on Thursday, as Germany demanded a "durable" supervision on the ground of its economic policy-making under the terms of a second €130 billion bail-out.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  2. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  3. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  4. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  5. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  6. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  7. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  8. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  10. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  11. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  12. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education