Athens and EU at odds over handouts from budget surplus


There is a huge gap between the views in Athens and Brussels regarding how to utilize the excess primary surplus that is expected in the 2017 state budget.

State Minister Christoforos Vernardakis said Tuesday that 1 million citizens will receive 1,000 euros each, but the European Commission would be vehemently opposed to such a move – as would some cabinet members too.

Sources in Brussels say Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s 2016 decision to hand out 500 euros to pensioners should not be repeated.

In case there is an excess in the primary surplus above its targets, Athens should stick to what has been agreed and channel the funds into the payment of expired debts, social policies and growth measures, and not pension bonuses that would undermine previous reforms. Part of it should also cover the return to pensioners of 315 million euros in healthcare contributions deemed unconstitutional.