Greece is to get a two-year extension and does not have to begin repaying a 500-million-euro debt to the EU until 2019, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan announced on Friday. He said that this latest extension was added to that given in June 2012, which had called for the start of payments in the current year.
“I believe that the EU is flexible with regard to Greece …I do not expect that the debts must be settled tomorrow but they must be settled, since in the EU we have an obligation to protect the money of European taxpayers,” Hogan said, while addressing the 3rd Agricultural Business Summit organised by the Economist in the city of Thessaloniki.
The Commissioner also praised the very good and close cooperation with the Greek rural development and foods ministry, saying this had never been better.
Rural Development and Foods Minister Vangelis Apostolou, on his part, asked for more flexibility from the EU:
“A total of 3.0 billion euros must be returned and if they ask us to pay that tomorrow, then the primary production sector will fold,” he noted.
Regarding the remaining sums Greece must recover from farmers and pay back to the EU, relating to money given to cooperatives and subsidy “packages” paid out under previous governments, Apostolou told a press conference that the “issue was on the agenda but we are not yet ready to begin the consultations that must take place.”