Greek aid process concluded

Concluding the process and deciding on the schedule for releasing the funds agreed on for Greece,

as well as examining and learning lessons from the crisis for the governance of the eurozone, will be the focus of the discussions of the heads of state and government at the meeting in Brussels this Friday.

The head of the Spanish government and President-in-turn of the EU, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, said in Brussels this week that when the leaders of the Eurogroup meet this Friday, they will demonstrate that the twenty-seven Member States are moving in the same direction, 'the direction of confidence, of budget deficit reduction, of economic growth, of gaining in competitiveness and of shared responsibility'.

In Mr Rodríguez Zapatero's opinion, supporting Greece implies the whole of the EU making a responsibility, credibility and solvency pact; he appreciated the sacrifice which the people of Greece will have to make, as well as the 'courage' of Giorgos Papandreu's government for implementing a plan of deficit reduction, tax consolidation and structural reforms.

This Tuesday, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, expressly defended financial aid for Greece, but insisted on changes to the EU treaties to avoid a repetition of the crisis and to once again give politics precedence over the financial markets, which is one of the issues which will possibly be dealt with at the meeting.

After describing the Greek situation as 'exceptional' and 'without historical precedents', Ms Merkel called on her EU partners to carry out 'an unflinching analysis' of the crisis and to undergo 'stringent therapy' to deal with it.

As a consequence of the crisis triggered by the threat of Greek bankruptcy, Angela Merkel stressed her wish to reform the EU treaties, their defects and deficiencies having come to light, which, as she said in a government statement to the German Bundestag, must be corrected to avoid a repetition of what has happened.

According to the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, 'all of the eurozone countries are taking steps to consolidate their public finances' and, in this context, he believes that 'Greece is a unique and particular case; it has a particularly precarious debt situation and it is the only country which for years has sought to deceive with its figures'.

However, Mr Rehn insisted that the situation in Greece 'has already been put right' and the programme of adjustment and reforms agreed on by the Greek government, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF represents 'a turning point' in the Greek crisis.

The latest European Commission forecast regarding the EU confirms that economic recovery is under way and raises its growth forecast for this year from 0.7 per cent to 1 per cent and to 1.75 per cent for 2011.

Nonetheless, the EC warns that 'weakness in domestic demand is still getting in the way of a more vigorous recovery' and that it is necessary 'to be careful that the risks hanging over financial stability do not jeopardise that progress'; though Olli Rehn insisted that 'the improvement in the prospects for economic growth this year is good news for Europe'.

Source: ©Presidencia Espanola

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