ECB head in Athens

Visiting European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Bank of Greece Governor Nicholas Garganas for a discussion of Greek and European fiscal issues ahead of next month’s spring EU summit in Brussels. «The ECB supports Greece’s current effort for fiscal rehabilitation,» said Alogoskoufis. He said he explained to Trichet that the government is resolved to bring the Greek public deficit below the prescribed ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product. Discussion also focused on planned changes in the EU’s Growth and Stability Pact, which are of special interest to Greece, the only country whose public finances have to date been placed under the close monitoring envisaged under the excessive deficit procedure. Greece generally favors maintaining the 3 percent ceiling for deficits and the 60 percent limit for public debt. The growth prospects of the European economy were also discussed, in relation to the targets set in the Lisbon agenda, aiming to make the EU the world’s most competitive economy by 2010.

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