NEWS

EU to ask for deficit reporting

The European Commission will step up disciplinary measures against Greece on Wednesday over its excessive deficit, calling on the government to provide regular progress reports but giving it until the end of 2006 to comply with the eurozone ceiling, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Greece will not be asked to adopt any extra deficit-cutting measures in addition to those in the 2005 budget that have already been put forward by Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, the source added. Alogoskoufis said that the deficit would be lowered to 2.8 percent of GDP by the end of this year but the Commission believes that it will stand at 3.6 percent – still 0.6 percent above the limit for eurozone members. However, according to sources, the government will have to produce reports on its adjustment efforts every six months until the end of 2006 so the Commission can assess its progress. The decision is likely to be adopted by the council of EU finance ministers when Ecofin meets either next month or in April, which is when the first progress report is due.