Europe – and Greece in particular – has achieved significant progress since last summer, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said at an online event on Wednesday.
The conference was organized by the European Commission in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) and took place on Wednesday and Thursday. Its title was “Greece and the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility: How Can Greece 2.0 Transform the Coronavirus Ccrisis into an Opportunity?”
On a panel with Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras moderated by IOBE General Director 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 Covid vaccinations. He did warn, however, 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 in 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.
On the panel, 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 the EU level and a safety net created for states, employees and businesses, while the Next Generation EU program was activated. According to current indicators, “Europe is recovering faster than expected,” he said, adding that the successful handling of the coronavirus crisis showed that “policy coordination among EU member-states is of vital importance.”
Staikouras cited Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe as saying that “there will be no premature withdrawal of Euro-based fiscal support,” a position that he said “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,” which will serve fiscal prudence, sustain the ongoing recovery, and allow EU states to effectively address remaining challenges caused by the pandemic.