“A 12-year cycle that has pained citizens, stagnated the economy and divided society is approaching,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
After 12 years of increased surveillance by the European Commission, Greece is turning a page, “a historic day for Greece and Greeks,” announced the Greek Prime Minister in an address to the nation on Saturday. “A 12-year cycle that has hurt citizens, stagnated the economy and divided society is coming to an end,” conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday. “A clear new horizon of growth, unity and prosperity is emerging for all,” he added.
In 2010, the Greek government appealed to the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund when it realized its coffers were empty. Since 2010, three €289 billion bailout plans have been launched by these creditors, urging Athens to adopt austerity measures to improve the country’s public finances and cash in on the coffers. Pensions and wages are being cut, taxes are being increased, public bodies are being hired, and the budgets of administrations, hospitals and all public institutions are being cut.
In 2018, the third program will end, but the European Commission will then launch a regime of increased surveillance of the Greek economy to check the implementation of the initiated reforms and the continuation of privatizations. Athens also commits to maintaining a primary surplus (before debt service) of 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). “The end of the increased surveillance of Greece also marks the symbolic end of the most difficult period that the euro zone has experienced,” underlined the EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni in a press release on Saturday. “Our strong collective response to the (Covid-19) pandemic has shown that Europe has learned the lessons of this crisis,” he also said. “Today’s Greece is a different Greece,” assured the Prime Minister. “We have strong growth and a significant drop in unemployment from 3% since last year and 5% since 2019,” he added.
The European Commission expects growth of 4% for this year, with an average of 2.6% for the eurozone. But unemployment remains one of the highest in the eurozone, the minimum wage one of the lowest, and debt at 180% of GDP remains a drag on the country’s economy.
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