Dombrovskis: Last package of measures not in “the right fiscal direction”

European Commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Pierre Moscovici on Wednesday stressed the Greek economy’s progress since the country exited the programme, as well as the risk of fiscal targets being missed.

Speaking about Greece during the presentation of recommendations for the European Semester and the third enhanced surveillance report, they said that Greece has achieved notable results in recent years, with a significant surplus for the third consecutive year in 2018, while highlighting its gradual return to the markets, which they said was “very positive for the Greek people.”

On his part, Dombrovskis noted that, thanks to the reforms implemented by Greece and its “sound” budgets, employment has increased, along with domestic demand.

However, he said that there have been delays in reforms in recent months, and that the last package of measures taken by the government is “costly” and not in “the right fiscal direction”. He also said that this poses a threat to earlier positive reforms, creating a risk that the budgetary targets will not be met in 2019 and onwards.

Moscovici stressed that the European Commission will closely monitor the course of the surplus in the coming months and that, regardless of who is the next government, he will continue to support the country’s recovery and continue constructive dialogue.

“Greece has covered a great distance in order to exit the programme and ensure that the reform process in on track,” Moscovici said in response to questions about a backtracking on reforms. He repeated, however, that the third report notes some delays and steps backward that are not in the right direction and that the Commission will be monitoring the impact of these policies on fiscal targets over the coming months.

The Commissioner said that the message to the next government, whoever it might be, was that Greece must continue on the right track and that the Commission will help the country achieve sustainable development.

Dombrovskis also warmed that there was “no room to manoeuvre” and that, if Greece wanted to continue its successful return to the markets, it must meet its commitments regarding fiscal targets and reforms. He said that the issue will be discussed at the Eurogroup in June and that it was expected to be a “difficult discussion”.