European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Wednesday praised the progress Greece had made in implementing much needed and often painful structural reforms as it prepares to enter the markets in 2018.
Moscovici noted that the conclusion of the second review and the Commission’s recommendation to close the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) for Greece had sent two “very strong signals” to both markets and investors.
“The signal that investors need to receive is ‘You can trust this country’ – if that is not good news then what is?” Moscovici said, adding that Greece was now a “more and more reliable country” that had met its commitments to the EU and the Eurozone.
“There is implementation of the reforms, Greece’s public finances are now healthy and under control, while a process of reforms is underway that is focused on growth,” he pointed out.
“Greece’s return to the markets is the step that everyone is waiting for,” he added, expressing the view that Greece could now “turn the page on austerity and open a new chapter of growth and employment.”
The closing of EDP was “a very significant moment in the history of the programme,” Moscovici said, while it was the result of an “unprecedented reform package,” involving more than 140 measures for the second review.
“Greece is now entering the last year of the programme and must place emphasis on sustainable and strong growth. On the return of investments, on improving the social insurance system, on the protection of the more vulnerable groups and a successful exit from the programme,” he added.
Following a visit to Thessaloniki by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday, Moscovici said he would be visiting Athens himself on July 25 to discuss issues concerning the economy and the end of the programme with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
He refused to be drawn on whether the present or previous governments had done more to reform Greece’s public finances, saying that the Commission’s job was to work with all governments, while admitting that efforts had been “more effective” after July 2015.
“If anyone deserves to be congratulated it is the Greek people,” he added, while the Greek people would also most benefit from current efforts for a strategy for growth based on social justice.
“Everyone must be satisfied with what happened today. My dream is that the political forces in Greece will be in a position to work together in the same direction as regards the general interests of Greece: a strong Greece in a strong Eurozone. This day is significant because it is an important step in this direction,” he said.