NEWS

Athens slams idea of budget commissioner

Greece reacted strongly over the weekend to a leaked German proposal for a European budget commissioner to oversee the country?s fiscal policy.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos Sunday dismissed the idea, saying it would be inappropriate to ask Greeks to compromise their country?s dignity for more bailout funds.

?Whoever puts before a people the dilemma of choosing between financial assistance and national dignity disregards basic historical lessons,? he said.

His comments came a day after Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou slammed the plan as ?the product of a sick imagination.?

A German government document leaked to the Financial Times late on Friday, and seen by Kathimerini English Edition on Saturday, proposed a commissioner to have veto powers over Greece?s budget decisions if it failed to meet demands set by foreign creditors.

?Given the disappointing compliance so far, Greece has to accept shifting budgetary sovereignty to the European level for a certain period of time,? the paper said. Under the plan, Athens would also legally commit itself to paying its EU-IMF loans before spending cash on public expenditure.

Despite the backlash in Athens, the German plan received open backing from a high-ranking official in Berlin Sunday.

?We need more leadership and monitoring in implementing the course of reform (in Greece),? German Economy Minister, and vice chancellor, Philipp Roesler said in an interview with Bild newspaper to be published Monday.

?If the Greeks fail to do this themselves, the leadership and monitoring must come in a stronger way from outside, for example through the EU,? said Roesler, leader of Angela Merkel?s junior coalition partners FDP who have seen their popularity tumble to very low levels in the past few months.

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