Europe and Greece in particular have achieved significant progress since last summer, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said at an online conference on Wednesday.
The conference was held by the European Commission in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) on “Greece and the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility: How can ‘Greece 2.0’ transform the Coronavirus crisis into an opportunity?” over September 29-30.
On a panel with Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras moderated by IOBE General Director, professor Nikos Vettas, Gentiloni said that in July 2020, when the previous conference took place, “the picture for the Eurozone and the world was very different,” and great progress was made from that time, thanks partly to the expansion of vaccinations for the pandemic. He warned that” attention should be paid closely to managing the recovery funds, since the danger in the economies is not yet over.” Greece has managed to move ahead after years of crisis, he said, and achieve a fairly significant reduction of unemployment.
Overall, Europe “has an obligation to show the younger generation, which has experienced two crises,” that this time it is is able to build a better future, Gentiloni said.
At the panel, FinMin Staikouras noted that Europe responded to the pandemic crisis and its social and economic consequences “rapidly, methodically and in a spirit of solidarity.” Significant decisions were taken at EU level and a safety net created for states, employees and businesses, while the NextGenerationEU program was activated. According to current indicators, “Europe is recovering faster than expected,” he said, the successful handling of the coronavirus crisis showed that “policy coordination among EU member states is of vital importance.”
Staikouras cited Eurogroup President Paschal Donohue as saying that “there will be no premature withdrawal of Euro-based fiscal support,” a position that he noted “Greece fully supports.” He also noted “the continuation of appropriate fiscal support and the necessary preparation for a soft landing, from fiscal relaxation to the gradual and careful return to fiscal rules, targets and requirements,” that will serve fiscal prudence, sustain the ongoing recovery, and allow EU states to effectively address remaining challenges caused by the pandemic.
The minister also noted that at national and European level, an initiative to “explore ways of introducing a central fiscal stabilization capacity” that is well designed could entail significant risk-sharing benefits for all member-states and the EU as a whole, “cushioning the impact of downturns on economic activity and employment.” This kind of mechanism, he underlined would particularly benefit the more vulnerable sections of our societies, thus making an important contribution towards limiting inequalities and poverty.
In addition, Staikouras also expressed strong support for the completion of the Banking Union, and said Greece is committed to it and “has kept a constructive stance throughout ongoing discussions.”