French Fin Min: EU decision for debt relief binding if Greece sticks to reforms

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French Fin Min: EU decision for debt relief binding if Greece sticks to reformsHe made reference to major progress by Greece over recent months on the reforms front

France will continue pushing for an ambitious implementation of last year's Eurogroup decision regarding debt relief, as long as Athens continues to meet its commitments regarding reforms, French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told "N" only hours after the conclusion of a high-profile visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the Greek capital.

Le Maire, 48, who has been active in the top echelons of French government since 1998, when he joined ministry of foreign affairs and international development and serving as farm and food minister between 2009 to 2012, presented the Macron administration's agenda for France, Greece and its Euro zone priorities.

In accentuating the positive, he made reference to major progress by Greece over recent months on the reforms front, and said late July's return by the country - after three years - to capital markets was a positive first step on the final stretch before the current bailout ends in August 2018.  

However, in repeating the leitmotif of caution expressed by most creditors' representatives, Le Maire said much remains to be done, particularly with the specter of high unemployment still hanging over the country with a fragile economic recovery apparently underway.

Furthermore, asked about the IMF's role in Euro zone bailouts, such as the third consecutive program that Greece is still implementing, he offered a more diplomatic and finessed position than his boss, French President Macron, who repeated in Athens this past week that the Fund is more-or-less redundant in the Euro zone.

"... it will be useful to think again about the specific role of various institutional partners for the future," Le Maire noted, nevertheless implying that Paris is not considering a "change of gears" in the period remaining in the current Greek bailout program.

At the same time, he repeated Macron's view that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) has evolved into an institution that can assume the IMF's role in the Euro zone.

In terms of bilateral relations, the French minister added he discerns investment interest by French companies in Greece's infrastructure projects, particularly ones involving transports, while pointing to a large entourage - roughly 40 - of business and corporate leaders that accompanied Macron on his two-day visit to Athens.

Before touching on Greek issue, Le Maire also didn't mince his words about France's economic situation, stressing that "for too long, France has lived above its means. Our level of public spending is not sustainable in the long run. We’ve known it for a long time, but successive governments have not had the courage to carry out the necessary cuts."

Read full interview here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Source: naftemporiki.gr

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