Negotiations between the government and the representatives of the institutions on labour market reforms will not be easy but will eventually improve the existing situation, Labour Minister George Katrougalos told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Saturday, a day ahead of the talks in Athens.
Labour market reforms will be the main topic discussed in talks between the Greek government and the institutions on Sunday. The two sides will also discuss the business environment, the draft bill for the out-of-court settlement on non-performing loans and the draft bills on plastic money and the voluntary disclosure of undeclared income.
“It’s a negotiation which, without being easy, I believe in the end will improve significantly the existing situation which is a labour jungle,” he said.
The meeting on Sunday will set the basis of the negotiations on three topics: collective labour agreements, mass layoffs and the union law, he said, adding that there will possibly be an agreement on some issues which concern legality.
“Just as we have said we will respect the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union on mass layoffs, we believe it’s evident that the other side will respect the decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights which has already ruled […] that the minimum wage for the young is contrary to the European social map,” Katrougalos said.
He also said the second base for discussion is the report by the European Parliament’s Committee of Independent Experts. “Based on these two methodological principles, we will discuss all the issues,” he added.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a press conference in Brussels on Friday, after the end of the European Council, that Greece has permanently left the days of crisis behind it. Talking about the results of his meetings with European leaders and officials, Tsipras said those he spoke with understood the need to send a strong signal to the markets.
“No one wants new upheavals, especially ahead of an election year in crucial European countries,” he noted.
Tsipras said that he had raised the need for all sides to adhere to agreements in all his meetings, barring that with British Prime Minister Teresa May which focused on Brexit and the Cyprus issue.
Referring to the decisions taken at the Eurogroup last May, the prime minister said that these were “exceptionally good and in an absolutely positive framework” and that the negative aspects, which became apparent in the press conferences afterward, were not the decisions but the clash between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European institutions. Similarly good decisions at the Eurogroup in December were attainable, he added.
“A strong signal must be given to the investment community and this is not given as long as there is constant postponement of all we have agreed. Greece must, as soon as possible, join the quantitative easing programme,” Tsipras said. At the European Council in December, there will be a discussion on the specific immediate and short-term measures that are necessary for a solution of the debt issue, he noted.
Reporting on his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Tsipras reported a good atmosphere and said he had raised crucial strategic issues. Among these was the Cyprus issue, which he also discussed with French President Francois Hollande. Both the French and German leaders expressed understanding and agreed with Greece’s position that a viable solution could not exist unless the presence of Turkish occupation forces on Cyprus was declared illegal, he said.
Greece’s full inclusion in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) program will constitute a powerful symbolic move for the country’s return to the markets, Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said on Saturday in a speech at the “Capital + Vision” conference in Athens.
“The Greek economy is heading towards recovery and we can now safely say it will exit recession and achieve a growth rate of 2.7 percent and higher in the next 12 months,” the minister said, adding that through the country’s inclusion in QE, banks will immediately feel the benefit and will also mean the full equation of the Greek banking sector with the European.
He also said resolving the debt issue is very important for investors who make long-term plans.
On Tuesday (Oct. 25), Stathakis will visit Rome to attend an investment roadshow organized by Enterprise Greece and Confidustria, Italy’s Industrialists’ Union. The minister will aim at attracting investors to Greece by presenting the recent developments in the economy, the simplification of the operation framework for businesses and the financing tools.
Even if Greece’s entire debt is cancelled, the economy will not thrive unless the ills of the country are dealt with, European Parliament Vice-President and SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis said on Saturday, during a speech at the “Capital + Vision” conference in Athens.
“Even if our entire debt is cancelled, if we don’t deal with our country’s ills we will not make it,” Papadimoulis said speaking at the session on “The consequences of Brexit for the Greek economy and the European economy”.
Describing the problems of the Greek economy, he said they concern clientelism, tax evasion, corruption, the slow administration of justice, the lack of stable tax laws, the use of land, energy, and the vast deficit in the economy’s competitiveness.