ECONOMY

Barroso lends his support to Greek efforts

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday lent the Greek government a helping hand in its efforts to convince the markets that it is doing its best and heading toward an exit from the current crisis. After the Portuguese official met with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Brussels, he said that «tribute has to be paid to the work conducted by the Greek government for the resurgence of the Greek economy.» Questioned on the issue of an extension for Greece to repay its debt, the Commission chief responded that the technical details are currently being examined so that this can proceed. He expects this to happen very soon. Barroso highlighted the «constructive way» in which the government is handling the Greek economy’s problems and suggested this has breathed new life into it as the country enters a phase of reorganization. He said the deficit is falling rapidly, inflation is stabilizing and the country’s competitiveness is gradually growing. He appeared certain that the council of eurozone finance ministers, known as the Eurogroup, would approve the disbursement of the next installment from the support package to Greece on January 19, amounting to 6.5 billion euros, and that at the end of December the International Monetary Fund would have approved of the disbursement of another 2.5 billion euros. The Commission president did stress that more efforts will be needed in order to streamline the country’s economy in the coming years and expressed his admiration for the courage of the Greek people and the bold reforms introduced. This token of support by Barroso comes at a crucial time for Greece as International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrives in Athens today, to be followed on Thursday by European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn. Papandreou stated that the reforms in Greece are to the benefit not just of this country but also the eurozone and the European Union. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou participated in the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels yesterday and is set to take part in an Ecofin session today.