NEWS

EU officials slam gov’t over public sector posts, judiciary

EIRINI CHRYSOLORA

TAGS: EU, Politics

European officials on Wednesday hit out at Greek authorities for a lack of independence in the public sector and warned against the practice of putting political allies in key posts.

The officials said the current situation in the Greek public sector and the judiciary were the two key problems that will remain pending after the country emerges from its third international bailout in August and suggested that their resolution will become post-bailout responsibilities for Athens.

The officials highlighted a lack of independence in the public administration, saying this was of particular concern with general elections due to be held next year as “vested interests” might exploit the state of affairs to gain privileges.

They also underlined the potential risks from too much backtracking from agreed-to policies, noting that this could eventually lead to a weaker “ownership” of reforms.

As for the appointment of general secretaries and other senior officials to Greek ministries, the officials called on the leftist-led government to follow the rules.

“We can’t legislate common sense,” one official remarked.

Another source in Brussels referred to ideological fixations in the ranks of the government particularly as relates to privatizations. The official pointed to continuing delays to plans for state sell-offs and stressed the need for “divestment” at Public Power Corporation, meaning that the organization must sell its assets.

European officials confirmed reports that had appeared earlier this week, according to which the International Monetary Fund wants a reduction to the tax-free ceiling that had been due to come into effect in 2020 to apply 12 months earlier, from January 2019, when the government has already committed to cut pensions again. But they also reiterated the European Commission’s disagreement with the IMF’s forecasts on which the Fund has based its proposal for the earlier imposition of austerity.

The officials also clarified that the EC objects to the idea of a precautionary credit line, saying it could undermine the government’s commitment to economic reforms.

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