ECONOMY

Greece pushing for an EU crisis management body

Greece said yesterday it plans to push for the creation of a Pan-European crisis management committee to manage the region’s oil stocks. Greek Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said EU energy ministers will be meeting in Thessaloniki on February 22 to discuss the proposal. «At the ministers’ meeting in December, I had a discussion with EU Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio on how the Greek presidency can promote setting up a crisis management committee on an EU level,» he said. Greece took over the six-month rotating EU presidency on January 1. Greece’s own crisis management committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting next week, a move which the minister said was timely in view of the rising tension over Iraq. In addition to overseeing the country’s oil needs, the committee will also combat oil smuggling and oil adulteration, two widespread problems in Greece. Tsochadzopoulos further unveiled an array of measures designed to enhance competition and improve transparency in the energy market, the most notable being the introduction of three mobile monitoring laboratories in Athens to crack down on adulterated petrol. By June, consumers should be able to go online or go to their municipalities for information on petrol prices countrywide. Greece is also planning legislation to extend its oil reserves, which are held by the private sector, to 90 days from 60 days. The European Commission in October threatened to fine Greece for breaking EU rules on mandatory strategic oil stocks.