European officials praised on Friday Greece’s response to the health crisis and stressed that the country will be in the same position as its eurozone peers in the terms of the support it receives from the European Union.
Speaking at an online event by The Economist in Athens, Eurogroup chief Mario Centeno said that Greece has shown significant progress not only in tackling the pandemic but also in its finances. “The country now standing tall in the capital markets is not the same country as the one that sought European assistance a decade ago,” he said, adding that in this crisis “there are no issues of moral hazard or structural weaknesses.”
The Portuguese finance minister also stressed the significance of European resources set aside for the recovery of the European South. In the programs already agreed and those under negotiation, such as the Next Generation EU recovery plan of 750 billion euros, “there is no troika, but that does not mean it will be a free-for-all.” These funds are “a golden opportunity if used strategically,” he noted.
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis highlighted the contribution of the new React-EU program, which forms part of the Next Generation EU plan with a budget of €55 billion, for the strengthening of EU cohesion policies. He reminded that React-EU is extending the supply of supplementary cohesion resources up to 2022 with “unprecedented flexibility” and 100% financing by the EU budget.
Regarding the Recovery and Resilience facility, which is the main instrument of Next Generation EU, Dombrovskis assured it will treat Greece in the same way as all other member-states and it can contribute in financing reforms pledged by Athens in the context of enhanced surveillance.
Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commissioner for the economy, expressed optimism over the prospects of the Commission’s proposals for the new EU budget and for Next Generation EU. Speaking on Bloomberg Television, the Italian commissioner noted that the long maturity period of the loans Brussels intends to issue (they will not start being repaid before 2028) means they will not be a big burden.