ECONOMY

Call for reprieve from co-funding

Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed that Greece be relieved of the obligation to contribute to European Union-backed infrastructure projects in view of it financial difficulties and that it instead be allowed to focus on getting its economy back on track and stimulating growth, Reuters reported.

Juncker, who heads of the group of euro zone finance ministers, was quoted as saying that the EU should temporarily suspend requirements for Greece to raise the national co-financing needed to trigger a payment from the EU.

On Thursday European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso wrote to Prime Minister George Papandreou to arrange for the creation of a task force from Brussels that will provide ?technical assistance? to Greece so it can make better use of EU structural funds. Barroso pledged last month to release early 1 billion euros of EU funds for projects in Greece. The Commission chief asked Papandreou to form his own team or to appoint one official to act as a liaison with the EU task force to ensure the best possible use of the funds.

Also on Thursday, Juncker accused international credit rating agencies of making «irrational and unreasonable» decisions by downgrading the debt of euro-zone countries such as Greece that are already receiving aid from their partners in the bloc. According to Juncker, the agencies «are taking steps that do appear to those of us who are involved in the solution [to] these problems to be irrational and unreasonable.»