Regling: Athens must take ‘strong ownership’ of fiscal, structural reforms
European Stability Mechanism (ESM) managing director Klaus Regling on Wednesday echoed the most recent statements by other top European leaders in recent days to emphasize that the Greek government must take “strong ownership” of the current bailout-linked fiscal and structural reform package.
Regling, who accompanied EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker on a visit and talks with Greek leadership on Tuesday, told an audience at an Economic group conference in the Greek capital that the recent conclusion of the first review of the Greek program (third bailout) was recognition that Athens has posted progress in modernizing its economy.
He nevertheless also pointed out that the procedure was delayed by six months.
In returning to “carrot mode”, Regling lauded the leftist Greek government’s recently enacted reforms and “hard work”, as he noted, in the social security sector and in public administration.
In a preview of the next round of talks to close the second review of the Greek program come autumn, the ESM chief said much still needs to be done in the coming two years, while referring directly to reforms in labor laws and liberalization of the labor market.
In terms of the all-important privatizations “front”, he cited the successful tender and pending transfer of the Piraeus Port Authority to Chinese shipping giant Cosco, and a similar privatization of 14 regional airports around Greece, won by a consortium led by Germany’s Fraport.
Just as importantly, when referring to Greece’s “Olympus-sized” foreign debt, Regling merely noted that as long as reforms continue, the Eurozone will be ready to help Greece with more measures aimed at debt relief.
Finally, he dismissed criticism that a lack of front-loaded measures for debt relief by the Euro zone implies inflexibility and insensitivity, saying the opposite is true – a sign that the bloc will continue to support Greece in years to come, as he put it.
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