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PM George Papandreou at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit (Warsaw, 29-30/9/2011)

Prime Minister George Papandreou attended the EU Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Warsaw on September 29-30.
Addressing the summit, Papandreou urged his European partnersto explore ways of institutional cooperation that would help promote stability and prosperity in both the eastern and southern zones of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Papandreou proposed that the summit establish a small number of realistic and shared short-term and long-term targets, especially in areas of heightened interest that had a tangible impact on citizens, such as mobility, visas, tourism and energy.
“We will then be able to focus on their effective implementation for our mutual benefit,” he said, adding that too ambitious a programme could become counter-productive.
Η Σύνοδος για την Ανατολική Εταιρική Σχέση πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Βαρσοβία στις 29 και 30 Σεπτεμβρίου, στο πλαίσιο της Πολωνικής Προεδρίας της ΕΕ.
Στη Σύνοδο συμμετείχαν εκπρόσωποι 33 χωρών, μεταξύ των οποίων τα 27 κράτη μέλη της ΕΕ και οι έξι χώρες της Ανατολικής Ευρώπης και του Νοτίου Καυκάσου: Αρμενία, Αζερμπαϊτζάν, Γεωργία, Μολδαβία, Ουκρανία και Λευκορωσία. Την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση  εκπροσώπησαν οι Πρόεδροι του Ευρωπαϊκού Συμβουλίου, Herman Van Rompuy, του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου, Jerzy Buzek, της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής, Jose Manuel Barroso και η ύπατη εκπρόσωπος για την εξωτερική πολιτική και την πολιτική ασφάλειας, Catherine Ashton.
Η Ανατολική Εταιρική Σχέση (ΑΕΣ) αποτελεί ευρωπαϊκή πρωτοβουλία που αφορά στη συνεργασία των προαναφερθέντων 6 χωρών της Ανατολικής Ευρώπης.
Την Ελλάδα εκπροσώπησε ο πρωθυπουργός Γιώργος Παπανδρέου.
Στο περιθώριο του δείπνου εργασίας στις 29 Σεπτεμβρίου, ο πρωθυπουργός Γ. Παπανδρέου είχε συνομιλίες με τους πρωθυπουργούς της Γαλλίας Francois Fillon, της Ισπανίας Jose Zapatero, της Πορτογαλίας Pedro Coelho, της Ιρλανδίας Enda Kenny, της Εσθονίας Andrus Ansip με την γερμανίδα καγκελάριο Angela Merkel, με τον αντιπρόεδρο της βρετανικής κυβέρνησης, Nicholas Clegg, με τους Προέδρους της Ουκρανίας Viktor Yanukovich, και της Γεωργίας Mikheil Saakashvili.
Στις 29 Σεπτεμβρίου ο πρωθυπουργός είχε, επίσης, συνάντηση με τον Πρόεδρο του Αζερμπαϊτζάν, Ilham Aliyev, με τον οποίο συζήτησε ενεργειακά και οικονομικά θέματα, καθώς και εθνικά θέματα, όπως το Κυπριακό.
Στο περιθώριο της Συνόδου στις 30 Σεπτεμβρίου, ο πρωθυπουργός Γ. Παπανδρέου συναντήθηκε με τον Πρόεδρο του Ευρωπαϊκού Συμβουλίου, Herman Van Rompuy, με τον οποίο συζήτησε μεταξύ άλλων για την πορεία της ελληνικής οικονομίας και την υλοποίηση των αποφάσεων της 21ης Ιουλίου.
Συναντήθηκε, επίσης, με την πρωθυπουργό της Σλοβακίας Iveta Radicova. 
Τα κυριότερα σημεία της εισήγησης του πρωθυπουργού Γ. Παπανδρέου στο δείπνο εργασίας των εθνικών αντιπροσωπειών έχουν ως εξής:
“Είναι γεγονός ότι φέτος η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση χρειάστηκε να εστιάσει την προσοχή της σε άλλες γειτονικές περιοχές, κυρίως στο Νότο, λόγω των ιστορικών και ευρείας εμβέλειας εξελίξεων που σημειώθηκαν εκεί. Continue reading

Deficit down by 46%

According to the preliminary data available for the state budget implementation for the first six months of 2010, on a fiscal basis the deficit presented a 46% year-on-year decline against a targeted 39.5% in the government’s economic policy programme.
The fiscal result of the first six months of 2010 is due to both restriction of expenditures and revenue increases. Nevertheless, these do not yet fully reflect all fiscal measures included in the government’s programme for 2010.
Furthermore, ordinary budget expenditures declined by 12.8% year-on-year against a targeted 5.5% reduction and primary expenditures decreased by 12.7% against a targeted 5.4% annual decrease.
Hellenic Stability & Growth Newsletter: June 2010
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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

The “Economist” Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A much timely “Economist” Conference was addressed yesterday by the country’s leadership and experts from the financial and business world.

Taking the floor, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou availed himself of the opportunity to note that Greece’s fiscal problems are also an issue for the entire eurozone and marked that a spill-over effect will not leave other eurozone countries unaffected, especially those which are as vulnerable as Greece.
The remarks were reported one day before the European Commission announces its recommendations on the country’s stability programme , which is most likely to receive European approval.   

» “Deficit Fetishism is a Mistake”
Addressing the Conference (Discussion and Debate with Joseph Stiglitz on the World Economy 2010), Nobel Economics Laureate 2001, former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, and Professor at Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz, dismissed fears that Greece will go bankrupt, adding that, when struggling with recession, governments ought to be careful with their rectifying measures.
“Cutting deficits in the wrong way can be counterproductive.”
Kathimerini daily: Greek woes are a eurozone issue

PM George Papandreou at the World Economic Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Speaking as part of a panel – that also included Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet – at the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (January 27 -31), Prime Minister George Papandreou said that Greece would not leave the euro area and would use the discipline of membership to slash its budget deficit and make long-delayed structural economic reforms. “The answer is very simple. We went [to the market] for borrowing two days ago and we were five times oversubscribed. We’re not looking for money from anywhere else…” said Papandreou. He outlined an ambitious goal to reduce the deficit by four points this year and bring it below 3% by 2012, through measures taken as part of Greece’s Stability and Growth Programme (SGP)
The premier held a meeting with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia yesterday, and the discussion focused on Greece’s SGP in light of the report that the European Commission will be submitting on February 3, on Greece. 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – speaking in Brussels on Thursday – stressed the need for the greater coordination of economic policies in the EU, emphasising that economic policies are not only a national issue, but European as well. Referring to Greece specifically, he expressed the conviction that the Greek government must be supported in its effort to fulfil its commitments in the framework of the SGP. 
See world reports – BBC.co.uk: Davos 2010: Greece denies a bail-out is needed; Reuters.com: Greece says being targeted as euro zone “weak link”

The Stability Programme was submitted

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The cabinet met yesterday  to approve the updated Stability and Growth Programme (SGP) 2008-2011, which was submitted today (15.1) to the European Commission in Brussels.

“We will achieve fiscal consolidation within three years. […] We can do it; this target is feasible,” said Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The premier added that the Stability and Growth Programme does not contain immediate fiscal adjustment measures only, but also a substantial part of the plan for the restructuring of the country.
On his part, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed that the deficit would definitely be cut, as Greece’s economy is expected to expand in the coming next years.
“The Programme was prepared with the decisive involvement of all ministries and it will be implemented through team-work,” said Papaconstantinou.
Kathimerini Daily: Cabinet stands by recovery plan; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Update of the Hellenic Stability and Growth Programme 2008-2011

PM George Papandreou: Economic crisis “a crucial national threat”

 

 (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Sunday, termed the economic and monetary crisis “a crucial national threat”.    Papandreou, however, expressed optimism over the favourable outcome of the struggle being waged by the government, calling on all Greeks and the mass media in particular to say “no to panic .”
The major changes that have been scheduled for 2010, which he termed a year of great changes and reforms, must be turned into practice as a precondition for this.
The prime minister made a positive assessment of the first 100 days of the country’s governance which, as he said, “we assumed in a deep and multifaceted crisis with a large size debt and deficits that were bequeathed to us by the previous government.”
He added that the economy alone was not at the root of problems, but the country’s way of governance as well.
Papandreou further said that during the first 100 days the “government stood at the level of its historical responsibility which is to have the citizen as its first concern,” adding that apart from changes in regional administration, great reforms and changes are also required in central administration.
He stressed that the changes will meet with great resistances but expressed certainty that they will have the approval of the Greek people.
Papandreou said that at the end of the coming week the stability and growth programme will be announced, as well as the proposals for government and legislative work that will be following in the near future.
He said he would be giving a press conference at the Zappion Mansion in the middle of the week and would be announcing the main conclusions on governance so far and priorities for the coming period, while calling on ministers to do the same in their field of responsibility.
 The prime minister also announced the creation of a “prestigious advisory committee” on the modernisation and operation of the government and institutional bodies with the principle “the citizen first” always being the target.
He stressed that the new architecture of self administration is part of the government’s overall planning so that on November 14, 2010, local administration elections will be held for the new strong municipalities and the regions.
Papandreou added that the “implementation of the great vision of the world of local administration will begin,” terming this task extremely difficult and for which the consent of all is required and that the government shall seek.
He further pointed out that resources for local administration will be secured in the framework of taxation policy and added that with the electoral law which will be voted in Parliament “a decisive blow will be dealt at black political money”.
Papandreou also referred to the government’s struggle for transparency and expressed satisfaction for the positive response met by his initiative to request from the President of the Republic to convene a meeting of party leaders.
Lastly, the prime minister also referred to the bomb attack that occurred in front of the Parliament building on Saturday, stressing that “no one and with no action can intimidate the country’s political world” and underlined that “we are not going to let such an action pass like this.”

Greece in ECOFIN: Adding Numbers Up

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou participated at the European Council Economic and Financial Affairs meeting in Luxemburg (October 19-20).  The minister acknowledged that the budget deficit for 2009 will creep up to 12.5% of GDP, a figure which has been also confirmed by the Bank of Greece.  One third of this significant increase can be attributed to the economic crisis – GDP contracted by 1.5%, investment dropped by 20%, tourism by 15% and shipping revenue by 20%.  The rest can be equally attributed to expenditure excesses, as well as the revision of the way by which the deficit is measured.  Papaconstantinou is ready to negotiate a three-year extension for deficit curbing with the possibility of a further one-year extension.  “The first step is to decrease the deficit to a single digit figure” for 2010, said the minister. The government has pledged to present the Commission with a revised three-year Stability and Growth Programme (2008-2011).Thirteen out of sixteen countries of the eurozone will be put under EU deficit supervision. The European Commission estimates that public finances for all eurozone members will begin to recover by 2011 at the latest.  European Commission: Driving the European Recovery 

Greece: Updated Stability & Growth Programme

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis chaired a meeting on Friday (30.1) of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Economy, which discussed the updated three-year stability programme that was later submitted to the EU. Presenting the updated Stability and Growth programme for the period 2008-2011, Economy and Finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stressed that Greece is expected to be one of the five eurozone member-states to achieve positive economic growth rates in 2009. According to the programme, the fiscal deficit would be 3.7% in 2008 and 2009, falling to 3.2% in 2010 and 2.6% in 2011. The economy is expected to grow by 1.1% this year, 1.6% in 2010, reaching 2.3% in 2011, while employment is expected to grow by 0.2% this year and by 0.6% and 0.7% in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Unemployment is expected to grow from 7.5% in 2008 to 8.0% this year and to remain at this level until 2011, before beginning to fall. Ministry of Economy and Finance: Updated Stability and Growth Programme for 2008-11 (in Greek) & Fact Sheets

Greece: Stable Outlook for the Economy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Recently appointed Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on Wednesday defended the government’s economic policy, saying it remained committed to reducing the budget deficit to below 3%, but not at the expense of social cohesion in the country. Commenting on a decision by Standard & Poor’s rating agency to downgrade Greece’s credit rating to A-/A-2 with a stable outlook from A-/A-1, the minister said: “The main reason why Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country is that Greece faces an international financial crisis with high public debt and fiscal deficit. I would like to note, however, that the public debt has fallen to 93% of GDP, down from 100% in 2004, and that the fiscal deficit has been cut significantly from 7.5% of GDP in 2004.  He added that the deficit remains at high levels because of the government’s decision to place the real economy as a top priority, but that it is to the country’s benefit to gradually cut the deficit below 3.0%. “And this will happen with a plan without leaving behind the need for social cohesion. That’s exactly what we will seek with our updated Stability and Growth Programme which we will present by the end of month.”  Athens News Agency: FinMin defends economic policy; Ministry of Economy and Finance: Economic and Financial Data for Greece &  Hellenic Stability & Growth Programme 2007-2010 (December 2007)