Troika targets more political ownership

Representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund told MEPs Tuesday that Greece would have to take greater political ownership of its fiscal adjustment program and further structural reforms would be needed.

?There are no more easy measures left for Greece,? said IMF representative Poul Thomsen at the European Parliament?s first hearing for troika officials. ?It is time for deep structural reform.?

His message was echoed by ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen and European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn. ?It is the Greeks themselves who need to take the action to reform their country and carry the responsibility for it,? said Rehn.

He identified two key weaknesses: ?weak administrative capacity? and ?lack of necessary political unity?. In what is likely to be interpreted by many in Greece as a comment on the upcoming general elections, Rehn said the issue of political unity ?can only be healed by the Greek citizens themselves.?

Asmussen asked for more emphasis on changes to the labor market, liberalizing closed professions and fighting tax evasion. He said Greek politicians had to take on ?vested interests?.

?It is best to think about our plan A and stick to it,? Asmussen told MEPs. ?There is no guarantee that the program will work… we face an exceptionally high implementation risk.?

At a European Parliament event earlier in the day, Eurogroup chief, Jean-Claude Juncker said he will publish all the letters he sent to Greek finance ministers in the past warning about the poor state of the country?s economy. In a letter to the parliamentary inquiry into Greece?s 2009 deficit, former economic affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia said he had warned Greek officials about an imminent crisis in 2009. He said that in July, the Commission projected Greece?s deficit would pass 10 percent of GDP by the end of the year. He admitted statistics guidelines were open to abuse.

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