In an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) during his recent visit to Athens, just a few days before his term as European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs comes to an end, Pierre Moscovici described some of the more “dramatic moments” that he lived through with respect to Greece, including two occasions – in 2012 and 2015 – when it was on the verge of exiting the euro area.
In the interview released on Saturday, he also spoke about the role of European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi, the background concerning the ‘leaks’ from Germany and the Greek economy’s prospects now that it had exited the support programmes and was returning to “normality”.
Moscovici emphasised that Greece was no longer the “poor relation” of the European Union or the “sick man of Europe” but a “country that is fully regaining its sovereignty and its credibility”.
On the Greek political scene, he said the acrimony between former premier Alexis Tsipras and the current prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was “normal” in the pre-election period but that “the reforms they both carried out are supplementary.”
Where Tsipras had proceeded to reform the state, administration, the labour market and pensions, Mitsotakis, as the new government, immediately carried out reforms to support entrepreneurship and investment, Moscovici said.
While acknowledging that Greeks had suffered through difficult years, he pointed out that the crisis had been responsible for the austerity, not the other way around. Greece had been forced to take austerity measures becuase there was “make-up on its fiscal figures,” and its economy was not sustainable in the euro area, he added.
“The country could not survive with a labour market that was totally unrealistic. It could not survive with a pension system that cost 5 pct of GDP more than that of anyone else. It could not survive with a public debt that did not stop growing,” he pointed out.
The full interview, in Greek, is available on the ANA website and subscriber service.