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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Commissioner Moscovici's remarks at the second press conference of the Eurogroup

Brussels, 08 December 2014

Let me begin by underlining that Greece has achieved very significant reforms and fiscal adjustment in recent years, in the most difficult of circumstances for the Greek people.

The headline deficit has fallen from over 15% of GDP in 2009 to an estimated deficit of just 1.6% of GDP in 2014 and is expected to reach balance next year. The authorities are now targeting a primary surplus of 3.0% of GDP for 2015: indeed Greece now has the highest primary surplus in the euro area after Germany.

The European Commission of course recognises this. And we are committed to supporting Greece in taking forward this process of necessary change and modernisation of the economy. This requires that Greece also show continued commitment to both fiscal responsibility and further structural reforms.

We have been engaged in intensive discussions in recent days with the Greek authorities and with the IMF and ECB. Our approach has been firm but constructive, open but determined. Our aim is to conclude the current review with a credible, balanced set of reforms and fiscal measures to help strengthen Greece's economic recovery.

On the one hand, there has been clear progress in a number of areas. On the other hand, as you said Jeroen, this progress has not been as rapid as could have been hoped – or as would have been necessary to allow for a conclusion of the review in the coming days. We came to global agreement fast on this point.

That’s why it has been agreed in principle, pending formal confirmation by Member States, that there will be a technical extension of the EFSF programme for two months. I really welcome this decision which in my view seems to be the wisest that was possible to take.

The Commission also welcomes Greece’s intention to request an Enhanced Conditions Credit Line from the ESM. This will provide a sound support framework throughout 2015, ensuring that the reform process remains firmly anchored in a European and international support framework.

The Commission remains fully committed to concluding the review as soon as possible. In this context, technical teams will start work in Athens tomorrow focusing especially on fiscal issues.

Pour terminer, nous avons eu, comme Jeroen l’a dit déjà, une discussion sur comment fournir des incitations aux Etats membres pour l’adoption et la mise en œuvre des reformes structurelles. C’est une discussion aussi importante que complexe.

Comme nous l’avons annoncé dans le Rapport Annuel de la Croissance (Annual Growth Survey AGS) il y a deux semaines, la Commission veut présenter des éclaircissements sur comment utiliser au mieux les possibilités offertes par les règles actuelles du Pacte de Stabilité et de Croissance pour renforcer les liens entre réformes structurelles, investissement et sérieux budgétaire.

Je peux vous confirmer, comme nous avons eu l'occasion de le dire avec Valdis Dombrovskis que nous avons l’intention de présenter ces éclaircissements dans les premières semaines de l’année 2015.

Voilà les quelques mots que je souhaitais ajouter. Nous avons aujourd'hui fait quelques très bons progrès dans l'appréhension de la situation de la Grèce et dans la façon de la traiter.

SPEECH/14/2483

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