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Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
Vice-President Rehn's remarks at the Eurogroup Press Conference
Eurogroup Press Conference/Brussels
27 November 2012
When I entered this building 14 hours ago, I referred to the delivery time for the Eurogroup. Now the Eurogroup has, indeed, delivered. I want to express my sincere thanks and highest appreciation to the euro area Member States for being able to take very difficult decisions tonight – and also to our partners, the IMF and ECB.
Today's political agreement removes the uncertainty that has been hanging over Greece for too long, holding back confidence, investment and growth. For the eurozone this was a real test of our credibility, of our ability to take decisions on the most challenging of issues. And it was a test that we could simply not afford to fail. When you read the statement, you can see that there is a very clear commitment to reduce the debt burden of Greece by 20 percentage points by 2020 and I would like to especially draw your attention to two or three elements that Jean-Claude Juncker mentioned.
First, there is the reduction of interest rates under the Greek Loan Facility by 100 basis points. Second, there is the commitment by euro area Member States to pass on an amount equivalent to the income of the SMP portfolio of their national central banks as from budget year 2013 and third, to which is very important, the euro area Member States have agreed that they will consider further measures and assistance including, for instance, lower co-financing in structural funds and/or a further interest rate reduction in the Greek Loan Facility, if necessary in order to achieve a further and more sustainable reduction of Greek debt-to-GDP ratio, so that Greece can achieve a debt-to-GDP ratio of 124% in 2020 and a substantially lower than 110% debt-to-GDP ratio in 2022. It's a very clear commitment and it's a very important part of this statement and of today's agreement. And finally, it should be made clear that today's agreement was made possible because Greece has shown that it is serious about reform. Greece has kept its commitments, it has made tough choices and I am fully aware of how difficult the present situation is for the Greek people.
But the measures that are being taken are transforming the competitiveness of the Greek economy. Greece has already come a very, very long way, and tonight the Eurogroup has rightly recognised that.
It is clear that the Greek government is now fully determined to ensure that the programme remains on track. The Commission will continue to support Greece in its efforts to reform, which must continue with the same determination as Greece has shown in recent months.