Juncker calls for further measures

Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker called on Athens to take new measures in order to meet the targets it has set for 2011, while ruling out the possibility of a Greek debt restructuring. A few days before the arrival in Greece of representatives from the country’s internatioal creditors and the disbursement of the third installment of loans in the support mechanism, Juncker issued a clear message about the future. While the government estimates the gap in meeting the deficit target for 2011 at 2 billion euros, the creditors’ technocrats who have already arrived in Greece ahead of the official visit by the representatives of the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund next week put the figure at 4 billion. The revision of deficits and debts has taken this year’s budget deficit to 8.8 percent of gross domestic product, or 20.3 billion euros, instead of the original target of 8 percent. Last year’s deficit is now estimated at 35 billion euros, from a previous estimate of 32 billion. «We believe that the Greek authorities will be able to rectify the deficit and respect the targets set for 2011. The strict program continues to be reliable and will prove so in the future,» said Juncker. He did add however that «we have to remember Greek growth in 2010 will be negative, which means that corrective reforms will need to apply along with new austerity measures in order to safeguard the targets for 2011.» The growth of this year’s deficit contributes to a smaller-than-expected nominal GDP, which is now estimated at 231 billion euros as opposed to 236 billion. «Greeks and others have excessive debts and this is not the fault of the eurozone,» said the head of the council of eurozone countries. «We are not considering a restructuring of the Greek debt, and neither are the Greek authorities,» Juncker added.