Task Force head sees progress but wants more

Greece has taken «positive steps» regarding the absorption of European Union funds, said the head of the European Commission’s Task Force for Greece, Horst Reichenbach, as he presented the body’s quarterly report in Athens on Thursday. He added that the successful debt swap means the country is able to make a new start, but accused politicians of not implementing the laws and regulations in place.

The German official stated that the absorption rate for the 20 billion euros at Greece’s disposal «has exceeded the EU average,» partly thanks to the increase in the participation of the bloc from 85 percent to 95 percent. In Greece’s case the rate stands at 39.6 percent against an EU average of 34.6 percent.

The Task Force chief stressed that the issue of funding small and medium-sized enterprises is very significant, underlining the fact that there are 1.3 billion euros in strutcural funds available to this end. In total, there is close to 5 billion euros available to SMEs, through loans, structural funds and grants.

Reichenbach added that «after the successful completion of the private sector involvement (PSI) plan and the elimination of most uncertainties regarding the second bailout package, Greece is making a new start on a more solid basis that is very positive for the future of the country. I hope the Task Force can contribute to this effort.»

He went on to accuse the country’s political system of passing a considerable amount of legislation without actually putting it into practice, and said that reforms that constitute conditions for the new bailout package for Greece must be fully applied.

“There are several points in the second program that will be hard to implement. This is why I am saying that the Greek government must not loosen up in the program’s realization,» said Reichenbach.

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