Rompuy, Barroso, on aid to Greece

EU heads of state and government congratulated Greek prime minister George Papandreou on Thursday on the renewed vote of confidence his PASOK government received in parliament earlier in the week, and urged speedy ratification of the government's Medium-Term fiscal programme and its Implementation Law to enable prompt disbursement of the 12 billion euros 5th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece. European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, addressing a joint press conference with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels on Thursday night after the first session of the two-day EU summit, noted that the funds for the new assistance program agreed for the Greek economy would come from both the state budgets of the eurozone countries and the private sector, clarifying that the contribution of the private sector will be voluntary and of a temporary nature, and that this "in no instance constitutes, even partially, a restructuring of the (Greek) debt"

He also noted that the EU heads of state and government congratulated Papandreou "on the positive vote of confidence earlier this week".

Barroso, in turn, reiterated the need for national unity in Greece, and expressed satisfaction with the EU summit's endorsement of his proposal for boosting development in Greece through refocusing the EU funds earmarked for Greece towards strengthening development.
The Commission chief said that a sum of 15 billion euros could be disbursed speedily for the enhancement of growth and employment, noting that the national participation for projects, in the case of Greece, would be reduced to 15 percent, while substantial technical support would also be provided to Greece for planning and materialisation of the projects.

"Regarding Greece I would like to brief you on an initiative I took recently regarding the needs to promote also growth and employment. I want us to use every available possibility to stimulate jobs and growth in Greece. Fiscal consolidation is indispensable, structural reforms are indispensable, the privatisation programme as well, but we have to make it clear that this is a contribution for growth and I have presented this initiative after consultations with Prime Minister Papandreou to look at how we can use the existing European funds, structural funds in Greece, so that they maximise their immediate impact on growth and jobs" Barroso said.

"We are ready to consider all proposals for reprogramming and restructuring funding to deliver rapid and better results on the ground. We are also prepared to increase the co-financing rate up to 85% which can be done without changing legislation and further frontloading of funds. And we are ready to make technical assistance available to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Greek administration," he added.

"The European Union budget provides over €20 billion for Greece in the current 7-year financing period. It has only been possible to spend a quarter of this up until now. €675 million is available for technical assistance for all Greek programmes. €420 million of this has not been contracted. I have asked Member States to work together with the Commission to bring all the technical assistance available to help get this money as quickly as possible to the Greek people in terms of growth and employment," the Commission chief explained, adding: "I am extremely happy with the clear endorsement by the European Council of the intention presented by the Commission, namely where the European Council states that it welcomes and supports the preparation by the Commission together with the Member States of a comprehensive programme for technical assistance to Greece."

"I think it was a very good meeting and the fact that in such a determined way, after a very brief discussion it was possible to agree on the Conclusions... and namely on Greece. I think it was once again an indication that there is a real will by the Member States in the Euro area and in the European Union in general to do what is necessary to preserve the financial stability in the Euro area and to work together with our Greek partners and to work for a reinforced governance in the European Union, and today it was an important step in that direction," Barroso concluded.

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