Greek PM Antonis Samaras says EU must act on pledges of growth

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday called on the European Union to make good on its promises to boost growth and help create jobs for young people and warned that a failure to do so would lead to more people disengaging from the political process and backing candidates like comedian Beppe Grillo, who took the Italian national elections by storm this month.

Speaking after the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Samaras said the Union could not afford to waste any more time in improving the state of its economy. “Commitments have to be turned into actions,” he said. “We have to find ways to speed up the economic recovery and reduce unemployment among young people.”

In the conclusions of the European Council, the 27 leaders agreed that “addressing unemployment is the most important social challenge facing us.” They also decided to advocate a more balanced approach to fiscal policy, indicating a move away from the austerity-centered policies of the past few years.

“There should be an appropriate mix of expenditure and revenue measures at the level of the member states, including short-term targeted measures to boost growth and support job creation, particularly for the young, and prioritizing growth-friendly investment,” the leaders said in their statement.

“Fiscal consolidation and restoring financial stability need to go hand in hand with well-designed structural reforms aimed at promoting sustainable growth, employment and competitiveness and the correction of macroeconomic imbalances.”

Samaras said that recession and high unemployment are leading to political developments such as the rise of Grillo and others who “reject politics.” The only way to tackle this phenomenon is to boost growth and employment, said the Greek prime minister.

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