Moscovici points to EC ‘preferences’ in Greece

Rounding off a two-day visit to Athens on Tuesday, European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici urged the government to push through pending economic reforms and indicated that Brussels has “its preferences” in which governments it wants to deal with.

At a press conference, Moscovici dodged questions about the possible outcome of presidential elections, saying he did not want to interfere in Greek politics. The European Commission “talks with all governments,” he said, adding however that Brussels would prefer to deal with those committed to “preserving the integrity of the eurozone and to reforms.”

The statement, which ruffled feathers in the ranks of leftist SYRIZA, was a mild version of recent comments by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said he would like to see “familiar faces” in Greece’s presidential elections rather than “extreme forces.” Replying Tuesday to a question by SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, Juncker said he meant the extreme right.

After appearing to suggest on Monday that the threat of a potential Greek eurozone exit remained, Moscovici insisted Tuesday that “Greece’s place in the eurozone is no longer in question.” “Greece needs the eurozone and the eurozone needs Greece.”

Noting that his “working visit” to Athens did not foresee talks with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, Moscovici said Tsipras was “welcome” to visit him in Brussels. He said the “only purpose” of his visit was to help Greece complete a pending economic review “as soon as possible and with a credible balance of measures.” “If the review is closed by the end of February, the troika will leave Greece,” he said.