The government has “managed to keep the unemployment rate at pre-COVID-19 levels,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the informal European Union Summit in Portugal when speaking at a moderated workshop on work and employment.
Mitsotakis pointed out that “spending money to protect jobs during a pandemic is a good investment and the right choice (…) but the transition from protecting jobs to creating new ones is a very different exercise, and much more complicated.”
Creating new jobs in Greece entails investments, not just consumption, he said, which means that Greece “must become a more attractive investment destination”.
The country will receive 32 billion euros from the EU’s Recovery Fund, of which 19 billion euros will come from direct subsidies, and a large portion of these will be directed to investments with a green or a digital focus.
Another will go to skills-building and active job-related policies.
“In Greece, we plan to spend over 3 billion euros on these policies, a significant amount given the country’s size,” the Greek Prime Minister said.
Mitsotakis also cited the example of local interventions, such as those related to the transition to a carbon-free future.
“To give you an example, yesterday we shut down operations in a power-producing unit running on lignite in northern Greece which had been active for nearly 50 years,” he said.
The Prime Minister added that a carbon-free future means “paying particular attention to these lignite-producing regions.”
Greece plans to invest nearly 5 billion euros in that region of western Macedonia to smooth the transition.
Mitsotakis mentioned the government’s new legislation, which introduces the right for an employee to sign off and not be available 24/7 for his employer.
He also spoke of the right for workers to set up unions online and to have access to basic health and safety gear, regardless of their type of contract.
“These are significant welfare issues that I hope will be adopted one day at European level as well,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
The EU Porto Social Summit wrapped up its one-day works with a dinner hosted last night at the Palacio da Bolsa by Portuguese Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security Ana Mendes Godinho on Friday.
Mitsotakis, who spoke earlier during a workshop on work and employment, was expected to raise the issue of a green certificate for vaccination and the waiver of vaccine patents during the informal EU Summit’s closing dinner.
According to government officials, Mitsotakis is expected to push for the faster possible adoption of the green certificate without including restriction on the return of travellers to their countries, such as having to self-isolate.
In terms of waiving the vaccine patents, he is expected to express support for the waiver, which he had supported as early as April 2020.