ECONOMY

Brussels pledges post-bailout support

The European Commission’s latest report backs government forecasts for a Greek economic turnaround, and Brussels is determined to help the country emerge from its adjustment program, as new Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici stated on Tuesday, underlining the importance of the reform process.

Brussels confirmed the government’s expectations for the economy to grow by 0.6 percent this year and a further increase of the gross domestic product by 2.9 percent in 2015, setting the barrier as high as 3.7 percent for 2016.

“The growth forecast for 2015 is above the European average and this gives us the hope that the reforms are bearing fruit,” said Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen, acknowledging that the average citizen in Greece may not understand these reforms are taking place and may not even approve of them.

Moscovici said Greece can count on Brussels’s support in its exit from the bailout process, adding that the Commission will have to take into account the “evolving demand” of the Greek government for an exit, while stressing that Athens must continue its reforms. He confirmed that the crucial decisions for Greece will be made at the Eurogroup on December 8 and that his first official trip as commissioner will be to Athens before that date, as the troika and the government will try to seal an agreement by then.

Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis was optimistic an agreement with the troika is near: “The fact that our creditors also talk about a new relationship signifies that they are open to dialogue, that there is no disagreement about the possibility of a prudent exit” by Greece from its international bailout program, he said in a TV interview on Mega Channel late on Monday. He added that Greece is entitled to a small adjustment period, lasting six months or one year, as in the cases of Portugal and Ireland.

However the issue of a fiscal gap in 2015 is likely to form part of the upcoming talks with the country’s creditors. Although the troika has not yet formalized its forecast for a gap next year, that is expected to be around 2 billion euros, while Athens insists the new budget shows there is no gap expected.