EU member states have not raised concerns about relief measures recently announced by the Greek government. Diplomatic sources close to the issue told EURACTIV.com that only the EU institutions have.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced last week new relief measures for low pensions, VAT cuts, bonuses for large families and rent subsidies, all due to be implemented before the EU elections on 26 May.
Greece’s major parties backed the measures but Bank of Greece Governor Yiannis Stournaras expressed his concerns over the country’s ability to achieve a 3.5% surplus this year. The finance ministry labelled those worries as groundless.
Greece officially exited the bailout programme in August 2018 but it was placed under enhanced surveillance.
“We are worried,” admitted Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the EU’s bailout fund. “Our preliminary assessment indicates that with these measures, the primary surplus target of 3.5% this year might not be reached by a significant margin,” Regling said.
Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, said since Greece was no longer in the programme, the Greek authorities have the ultimate responsibility for their decisions and added that both the budgetary and social impact of the measures should be assessed.
The EU institutions are not expected to review the country’s situation until June, when finance ministers will review the Commission’s country-specific recommendations for all eurozone members.
However, earlier today, Greek media quoted DW as saying that the Dutch parliament will require “confirmation” from Athens about its fulfillment of the commitments undertaken under the enhanced post-bailout surveillance.
“The answer is no, incorrect. Only the institutions responsible for the programme brought this up. None of the member states stated this,” diplomatic sources said.
The political atmosphere has heated up in Athens ahead of the EU elections and the leftist government is being accused by the conservative opposition New Democracy party (EPP) of granting electoral gifts.
The Syriza government replied that these measures are aimed at restoring the social injustice that took place during crisis times.
In an interview with ALPHA TV, Tsipras predicted a neck and neck race in the EU elections between his party and New Democracy, which still leads the latest polls. But the gap has significantly narrowed to 6%.
[Edited by Sam Morgan]