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EPP Group sees "mixed signals" from Greek economy


12 Feb 2016


Development Policy
Euro & Finance

"Greece has done a lot, but needs to do more"

The EPP Group sees mixed and contradictory signals coming from the Greek economy, after EPP Group MEPs spend three days on a fact-finding mission in Greece.

"Our impressions are ambivalent. We see the enormous efforts and the deep-cutting reforms big parts of society have gone through. But we also see that a lot of time has been lost, some previous achievements have been jeopardised by the current government, and a lot more needs to be done", said Esther de Lange MEP, Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP Group, and Burkhard Balz MEP, leader of the fact-finding mission and EPP Group Spokesman in the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, today.

De Lange stressed the need for the Greek reform programme to keep on track. "The pension system needs to be reformed, the tax collection system needs to be improved so that revenues come in and tax evasion is stopped. Plowing 10 percent of gross domestic product into the pension system, compared to an average of 2.5 percent in the EU, is not sustainable", de Lange stressed.

Structural reforms will provide much more benefits to the Greek people than what they will cost.

Burkhard Balz MEP

Balz also sees positive developments. "Greece has done a lot to stabilise its public finances and its economy. But structural reforms must be continued consistently, such as the privatisation process. Not least because a positive review and a good agreement with its lenders will provide much more benefits to the Greek people than what the reforms will cost", said Balz.

Georgios Kyrtsos MEP, a senior Greek EPP Group Member, pointed to the mistakes made over the last two years. "In 2016, Greece has to cover the cost of the time lost in 2015 due to the mess created by Mr Varoufakis. Greece lost valuable time because of the early elections and the first Tsipras Government instead of following the example of Portugal. Greece is the only Eurozone country that entered a programme and has so much trouble completing it", he said.

Balz stressed that the European Parliament will continue to monitor the economic development in Greece. "The newly-set-up Financial Assistance Working Group of the Parliament will ensure the democratic oversight over the EU aid for Greece", he explained.