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Stability programme on “the right track”

The team of experts from the so-called “troika” (European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank), after completing their monitoring of the progress of the stability programme, said that the latter is “on track on all of the dimensions.”
 The government is ahead of the deficit reduction target set in the plan for this year and tax hikes are boosting revenues, according to the team.
The government is also making progress on more long-term economic reforms, which can help its future finances, they added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister George Papandreou, who attended the European Union Summit in Brussels yesterday, underlined that “his government is determined to go ahead with important and difficult reforms,” in order to put the country on the right path for achieving its goals. 
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

EU backs up Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The European Union yesterday, in a joint statement by the Heads of State or Government, agreed to take determined and coordinated action to safeguard financial stability in the euro area, and expressed full support for the efforts of the Greek government and their commitment to do whatever is necessary to get the country’s public finances in order.
European commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said that the statement was intended to end speculation that Greece would require a bailout package, while adding that “the Greek government believe they do not need financial support.”
Addressing a press conference at the end of the informal summit in Brussels and referring to this agreement to assist Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou said:

“our partners assessed and ascertained our will to change, we convinced them, following our great efforts, and it is necessary for us to continue. We will succeed.”
Greece is aiming to reduce its deficit by 4 % of GDP this year, largely through cuts in public spending and an increase in taxes. However, Papandreou said that he would not hesitate to adopt more measures if it becomes necessary.
Council of the European Union: Agreement to support Greece; Kathimerini daily: EU offers help but no specific money pledge

PM Papandreou meeting with French President Sarkozy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou flew to France yesterday, for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy – on an array of issues, focused mostly on economic matters – ahead of today’s European Council meeting.
After his meeting with the French president, Papandreou stated that the Greek government is committed to taking all necessary measures to fix Greece’s public finances.
 “We are ready to take any measures in order to cut public deficit to 8.7% of GDP in 2010 from 12.7% in 2009 and to meet the commitments the government has undertaken in its Stability and Growth Programme.”
Besides the pressing deficit and credit crisis burdening Greece, Papandreou said issues dealing with the Balkans, the Cyprus problem, climate change and even Europe’s position on the international stage were discussed.
Kathimerini daily: Premier talks tough but EU may offer help; Youtube.com: Greek prime minister in France for debt talks

Greece: Fiscal Goals Will be Met

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   After assessing the national Stability and Convergence Programmes of France, Spain, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and Greece , the European Commission presented yesterday (18.2) its reports the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact. Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said yesterday that Greece can return to sustainable public finances by 2011. He stated that the difference between the growth rate projections (EU estimates 0,2% growth rate and Greece 1,1%) affects forecasts for the budget deficit and public debt. He even added that EU’s projections between 2006 and 2008 were lower compared to those achieved. “Greece is one of the five countries in the eurozone expected to have positive growth. Unemployment falls below the eurozone average. Seven countries in the eurozone are projected to have a bloated deficit record this year, far higher that the Pact’s threshold of 3% (GDP). Ireland’s deficit is estimated to reach 11%, Spain’s 6,2%, France 5,4%, Portugal 4,6%, Italy 3,8%, Greece 3,7% and Slovenia 3,2%.” “In any case,” Papathanassiou concluded, “between 1980 and 2004, public debt has tripled. Reducing it is not only a matter of compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, but also because it is in the country’s best interest.”