‘We are not here to punish,’ task force chief says

The European Union task force is not here to supervise or punish Greece but to help with the disbursement of EU money, the team’s chief said on Monday.

In an interview with Skai television on Monday, Georgette Lalis sought to appease concerns that the presence of the Brussels-based task force here in any way impinges on the debt-wracked country’s national sovereignty.

?We are not a government, we are more like middle men,? said Lalis, adding that her team has the necessary knowhow to facilitate the disbursement of billions of euros in EU structural funds and help provide expertise in overhauling ailing areas of public administration.

?The task force neither supervises nor punishes. It recommends and evaluates,? she said.

The task force officially assumed its role in Greece on September 1 and last month published the first quarterly report on its work.

The team is made up of about 25 people in Brussels — led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) vice president Horst Reichenbach — and of 12 people in Athens headed by Lalis, a Greek who has been a civil servant with the European Commission since 1981.

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