Christodoulakis wants orderly modification of EU fiscal discipline Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday warned that failure to reach an agreement at next week’s meeting of EU finance ministers on excessive budget deficits would deal a «serious blow» to the bloc’s fiscal pact. «It seems critical to me to preserve the existing framework, because if we do not come out of the Ecofin next week with a common position, I am afraid it will be a serious blow to the Stability and Growth Pact,» he said in the text of a speech to EU ambassadors in Athens. The European Commission wants France and Germany to bring their deficits below the pact’s limit of 3 percent of GDP by 2005 and make budget cuts in 2004, which German Finance Minister Hans Eichel has said was a prescription his country’s economy could not afford to follow. Christodoulakis said that even though criticism of the pact’s rules as too rigid was partially justified, it would be a mistake to dismantle the existing framework without putting anything else in its place. (Reuters) Emporiki looks forward to more business with Credit Agricole France’s Credit Agricole, which holds a 10 percent stake in Emporiki Bank, plans to strengthen its presence in Greece, Emporiki’s chairman Yiannis Stournaras said. «Credit Agricole executives have told me the bank does not plan to leave but instead aims to boost its presence in Greece,» he told reporters. He did not elaborate on whether this would involve increasing the stake in Emporiki. Credit Agricole has right of first refusal to an additional 9.6 percent stake in Emporiki held by the Greek State. «I hope (the sale to Credit Agricole) will take place soon,» he added. Stournaras also announced the launch next week of Credicom, a joint venture between the two groups in wholesale consumer credit. Romtelecom Romania’s telecoms regulator ANRC rejected yesterday a request by the country’s main fixed-line operator, Romtelecom, majority-owned by Greece’s OTE, to raise tariffs for line rental by about 66 percent. Romtelecom asked the ANRC last month to approve an increase by about 2 euros for line rental starting next year. ANRC said in a statement Romtelecom can raise tariffs for line rental by a maximum 10 percent, or about 30 euro cents, if it cuts tariffs for long-distance calls by at least 10 percent. (Reuters) Michaniki Construction group Michaniki said nine-month pretax profit after minorities grew 55.9 percent to 14.41 million euros. Group turnover rose 30.9 percent to 113.2 million euros. Michaniki said its order book of signed construction projects currently exceeds 300 million euros. Energy conference The eighth annual «Energy & Development» conference will be held at the Athenaeum Inter-Continental Hotel on November 26 and 27. Topics to be covered include opportunities and obstacles in the Greek power market, the outlook for the natural gas sector in the region, renewable energy sources and the latest technological developments. For more information, call 18.104.22.1687, or log on to www.energia.gr.