The Greek government is determined to take measures towards reducing energy costs regardless of any objections raised by EU authorities, Development Minister Nikos Dendias said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, after an Inter-ministerial Commission meeting on Industrial Policy, Dendias said: “We seek an honest dialogue for the reduction of energy cost, but if we disagree with our partners on the measures, as a sovereign country we can vote legislation and then if anyone wanted it could take us to Community bodies,” the Greek minister said.
He added that “We do not always agree with the European view. Measures such as return from DEPA and others included in a package for the reduction of energy cost in the industrial sector will be on the agenda of talks with Mr. Juncker when he arrives in Athens as new President of the Commission, as we believe that some measures must be introduced. The state places to operation framework of the economy to help reduce the cost so that producers and manufacturers could be competitive. There is a clear planning by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras aimed at strengthening business activity,” Dendias said, adding: “I don’t see European partners as rivals but not as excessive policy force killing every effort the country does to become competitive”.
Theodoros Fessas, president of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), speaking to reporters, said that interventions in labor costs were more than enough and stressed that the Federation has not asked for additional interventions. “The members of the Federation pay well over the average wage,” Fessas said, adding that the non-payroll cost has a big impact such as high labor taxation.
The meeting agreed to form a three-party commission to monitor the course of planned interventions and implementation of actions towards reducing energy cost. The Inter-ministerial meeting will convene again in October.
The representatives of SEV emphasized, that the drastic cost reduction of electricity and natural gas down to European levels constitutes a “survival condition” for the Greek productive units.
To SEV’s view, any delays in the reduction of energy cost in today’s uneven competition framework jeopardizes the viability of businesses and employment. SEV also called for a bundle of energy measures worth 150 million euros announced in February to be immediately applied, noting that relieving energy products from tax burdens is in line with the European guidelines, while also constituting one of the basic measures of aiding domestic industry in times of crisis.
SEV supports that businesses with a large number of employees which face the risk of closing down should be offered priority in receiving funding by the new National Strategic Reference Framework, as long as their viability prospects can be proven.