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EU economy chief candidate: EU should audit Greece

EU economy chief candidate: EU should audit Greece

Olli Rehn, the candidate for the European Union's top economy post, said Monday that EU officials should be able to check Greece's public finance figures.
Greece has alarmed debt markets and other EU countries by announcing a yawning budget gap _ far beyond earlier estimates _ that raises the prospect of a bailout if it can't cut spending and raise more revenue.
The Greek crisis shows how few powers the European Union's executive has to rein in the 16 countries that use the euro if they don't keep to economy standards designed to keep their currency stable.
Rehn said EU governments should allow the European Commission to audit Greece's statistics _ which would be an admission that Greece's public finances cannot always be trusted.
"We don't know to what extent Greece's public deficit has grown, and for this reason it's very difficult to take a long-term view," he said.
Speaking to EU lawmakers who must approve him to become the EU's economy commissioner, Rehn said the Greek situation was "very serious" but that he did not think Greece would quit the eurozone.
He called on Athens to come up with a "convincing" spending program "which will have to include concrete, tangible measures" to cut spending and raise revenues.
He said the EU executive would recommend within weeks what Greece should do to start plugging the deficit.
He also said EU nations must restabilize public finances with "rigor" to pay off the massive debts they are building up. However, he said that "we have to time this right" and economy stimulus programs should be withdrawn only when such action won't harm growth.
Rehn said he would like to see more EU nations adopt the euro and that the next likely candidate, Estonia, was "in pretty good shape" and "should be able to enter the eurozone."
Would-be euro members have to meet several economic tests _ including limits on inflation, debt and deficit _ before they can swap their national currencies for the euro.
Rehn, a Finnish politician, previously served as the EU's enlargement commissioner from 2004.


Updated : 2021-04-19 03:53 GMT+08:00