Wednesday

1st Jun 2016

Words are not enough, Barroso tells Greece

  • Barroso tells PM Samaras to 'deliver, deliver, deliver'. (Photo: European Commission)

Greece must stop only talking about reforms but actually carry them out before its lenders' trust runs out, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said on his first visit to the country since it had to be bailed out.

"To maintain the trust of European and international partners, the delays must end. Words are not enough. Actions are much more important," he said Thursday evening (25 July)

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"The key word here is: deliver. Deliver, deliver, deliver."

Barroso made his strong statement standing alongside prime minister Antonis Samaras and while the international team of inspectors - from the EU commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - are in the country determining how and when the Greek reform programme can be got back on track.

Samaras, for his part, said: "I told Mr Barroso that we are determined as a government to move ahead with structural changes, privatisation and implementation of agreed measures."

The two also discussed the need to tackle the country endemic tax evasion, to "drastically reduce" public expenditure, to change the business climate and better use EU funds.

But Samaras also noted that Greece's reform efforts are being undermined by negative comments from its euro partners, with Finns, Dutch and particularly Germans casting doubt on Athens trustworthiness and political will.

"I also told Mr Barroso about the need to avoid statements from foreign officials that make our efforts to reach our objectives more difficult," said the prime minister.

His rebuke comes as sceptical statements are emerging almost daily from Germany. Its economy minister Philipp Roesler recently said a Greek euro exit has "lost its horror" while Bavaria's finance minister Markus Soeder Thursday said that the eurozone will ultimately be stable if it consists only of strong members.

Newspaper reports, meanwhile, have variously said that it would be impossible to get a third Greek bailout through parliament and that the IMF is not prepared to give any more money to the country.

In Greece itself the three-party government has an uphill struggle to persuade citizens to stomach more austerity. It has tentatively agreed to see through a €11.5bn package of spending cuts for 2013-14, agreed months ago but held up due to elections in May and June.

The troika will return to Athens in September to decide whether Greece has made sufficient progress in upholding its promises to its creditors to get paid the next tranche of money - €31.2bn - from its second bailout, due to have been paid out since June.

Meanwhile Greece has to cover a €3.2bn bond payment due in late August. EU officials insist this does not present a problem and will be managed with "technical" steps.

Finance ministers baulk at tax-avoidance rules

Member states will discuss again in June a proposed directive to outlaw practices used by large companies to avoid paying taxes. Meanwhile, the European Parliament makes progress on its probe of Panama Papers.

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