Tag Archives: SMEs

Guaranteed to fail

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis for Cartoon Movement

There are many reasons to be alarmed about the upcoming parliamentary elections. The possibility of eight, nine or even 10 parties entering Parliament after May 6 seems a recipe for a particularly unsatisfying political moussaka. The uncertainty over what the next government may look like or if cooperation will be feasible at all is also a cause for dread. The rise of the neofascist Chrysi Avgi is enough to make one sick to the stomach.

Even more alarming though is that with the elections about two weeks away, the political language is more wooden than the ancient fleet which saw off the Persians at Salamina. While Greek voters have largely been anesthetized to the effect of their politicians’ rhetoric, the fact that party leaders and parliamentary candidates are spending so much time locked in pointless debates means the crucial issues are being ignored.

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An EU force for the task at hand

For some, its presence in Athens is a clear indication that Greece’s eurozone partners want to run the country themselves; for others it is a confirmation that the European Union wants to offer practical help. Whatever your view on the EU Task Force for Greece, though, there are a couple of things that are undeniable: the team from Brussels is aiming to facilitate the disbursement of about 15 billion euros in EU structural funds over the next two years that would help Greek jobs and businesses, and it is helping provide expertise in areas of Greek public administration that suffer from chronic problems, such as tax collection and the judicial system.

The Task Force officially assumed its role in Greece on September 1 and recently published the first quarterly report on its work. It is made up of about 25 people in Brussels — led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) vice president Horst Reichenbach — and of 12 people in Athens. The Athens “antenna” is headed by Georgette Lalis, a Greek who has been a civil servant with the European Commission since 1981. She has held several executive positions but her last job in Brussels was as director of international affairs for energy. Between 2001 and 2004, she was CEO of the land registry (Ktimatologio SA).

Speaking to Kathimerini English Edition, Lalis distanced the role of the Task Force from that of the troika and identified a wide range of projects that it is cooperating on with Greek authorities, including a change to EU rules to provide Greek businesses with a working capital injection of 500 million euros.

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