Off the wire
Peru racing to lodge extradition request for former president with U.S.  • Boca Juniors teammates apologize after training ground fight  • Latvia ready to step up dialogue with Russia: parliament deputy speaker  • France's PSA in talks to buy GM's Opel and Vauxhall brands  • Syria mortar hits northern Israel: military  • Lebanon's PM vows not to bend to foreign powers  • May rejects petition calling for Trump's state visit to be called off  • Chilean striking miners agree to government mediation  • 32 UN personnel killed in deliberate attacks in 2016  • Loss of muscle mass during chemotherapy lowers life expectancy: Austrian study  
You are here:   Home

Roundup: MEPs say no room for complacency in tackling Greek debt

Xinhua, February 15, 2017 Adjust font size:

The sovereign debt crisis that has rocked Greece since late 2009 came back onto the European agenda with a Tuesday debate at the European Parliament here.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) auditors will be looking to see how promised economic reforms have been implemented in exchange for rescue funds, the last of which in August 2015, was Greece's third financial bailout since 2010. Members of European Parliament, however, called for more urgent action to improve the situation.

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis argued that Greece was implementing significant structural changes across all areas of the economy and had made major fiscal efforts. "There is no room for complacency," he added, before stating that a staff-level agreement between Greece and its creditors should be "within reach."

Responding to the vice president, MEP (member of the European Parliament) Udo Bullmann (Socialists & Democrats group, Germany), asked, "If we are on the right path, why do we hear voices from member states who are worried about Greece leaving?"

Bullman also underlined the increased gravity of the situation in Greece with the heavy presence of refugees since the beginning of the European migrant crisis.

MEP Manolis Kefalogiannis (European People's Party group, Greece) assigned the responsibility for much of the problems facing the country today to the current Greek government: "It is important that our country emerge finally from the crisis and that it orientate itself towards Europe. What we need is to get investment going again."

"Young people are out of a job, SMEs have been closing down, and there have been savage cuts to pensions too," lamented Notis Marias (European Conservatives and Reformers group, Greece). "The implementation of these measures has turned Greece into a huge cemetery."

Dimitris Papadimoulis (European United Left/Nordic Green Left, Greece) argued: "Eurostat figures show that Greece is returning to growth and has fulfilled objectives. We have a primary surplus which is four times bigger than that agreed and for 2016, despite the IMF's forecasts, we have growth."

Doubt related to the role of the IMF within the eurozone was also expressed by Sylvie Goulard (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, France): "Following years of debate, we are still in crisis management mode, with a huge grey cloud above our heads."

Non-aligned Greek member Georgios Epitideios demanded: "How can this Union have a future when its leadership collaborates with IMF loan sharks to impose on Greece's proud people new intolerable measures tantamount to genocide?"

Sven Giegold (Greens/European Free Alliance, Germany) thought that Greece could overcome its difficulties, though he noted: "Policies [in Greece] are being carried out which actually have a background in the politics of other member states."

The IMF and EU member states have disagreed on the policies the Greek government should implement for the country to emerge from its economic slump and also on whether it is in need of debt relief, something that the IMF has been promoting.

The eurozone's finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Feb. 20 to discuss the situation.

Greece currently has enough money to fund itself until July, when the country has to make a 7 billion euros (7.4 billion U.S. dollars) debt repayment to creditors.

Meanwhile, the financial crisis has taken its toll on the Mediterranean country and the people living there. Greece's government debt increased from 109.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2008 to 179.7 percent in 2014 and currently stands at 177.4 percent, according to Eurostat.

The country's unemployment rate has also remained high: from nearly 8 percent in 2008 to 27.5 percent in 2013 before slightly dropping to 24.9 percent in 2015. Endit