Greek FINMIN in Brussels

papathanasiouECOFIN1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The explosion of the unemployment rate in the European Union is the biggest social problem facing EU member-states, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Tuesday, adding that employment in Greece remained at better levels compared with other EU states. Speaking an Economy and Financial Affairs Council meeting, the Greek minister said the government was determined to combating unemployment with specific measures, such as programs for the construction sector.  Papathanasiou said the Council meeting also discussed changes in the taxation of tobacco products. “Our interest is to support Greek production, the Greek tobacco industry and job positions,” he said, adding that the Council leaned towards a compromise proposal in favour of Greek interests, although it failed to reach a decision. An increasing number of EU member states entering into excessive deficit procedures facilitates Greece task in requesting a one year extension to 2011, if necessary, to bring the deficit down to 3%. Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Latvia and Rumania join the list of countries with excessive deficits (France, Greece, Spain, Ireland, UK) as of today, while another 9 countries including Italy and Germany are to join the list in November.  Greek News Agenda: Tax Package to Curb Budget Deficit