Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Priorities for Greece as EU President

By Vassilios Costis (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-23 07:46

Greece assumes its 5th Presidency of the European Union at a time that Europe is going through a crucial transitional phase. In Europe today we are called upon to tackle the economic and financial crisis by safeguarding our common currency through the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and by dealing with recession and unemployment through boosting growth. At the same time, security challenges in our external borders are forcing us to deal with immigration issues.

The first six months of 2014 are, at the same time, a very important period for Greece. We aim at making very clear the positive aspects of our exit from the crisis, after a very long and strenuous period of great sacrifices from the Greek people.

Elections for a new European Parliament in May and the new European Commission are yet another factor that sets the context of the Greek Presidency.

In the above political, economic and institutional framework the Greek Presidency will focus on the following areas:

Promoting growth, employment and cohesion will be a priority for the Greek Presidency. Greece will push for the full and effective implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs and other initiatives and programs on growth and job creation. It will take action on external trade through further promoting ongoing talks with strategic partners, and will promote action on dealing with the social consequences of our decisions on the Economic and Monetary Union.

We will also promote the deepening of the EU, especially the Economic and Monetary Union, by introducing policies and actions to address initial deficiencies in the eurozone architecture. The main objective is to safeguard the stability of the common currency by advancing the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and the ex ante coordination of national fiscal and economic policies. The Greek Presidency will strive to reach agreement on the Banking Union and relevant mechanisms such as reinforced budgetary and economic integration frameworks.

Migration, border management and mobility will be another major objective for the Greek Presidency. We will concentrate our efforts on highlighting the positive aspects of a comprehensive migration management to boost growth, and will spare no efforts in promoting migration and mobility policies. At the same time, action is envisaged to tackle the problems illegal migration causes to the economy, social cohesion and political stability. The Greek Presidency will also push for further cooperation with other countries on issues such as asylum, readmission and returns.

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