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EU signs off on Greece's pandemic recovery plan

June 17, 2021

Ursula von der Leyen has said the European Commission backs Greece's spending plans as the bloc looks to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. Athens will receive loans and grants in return for economic reforms.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meet at the Ancient Agora in Athens
Ursula von der Leyen gave the EU's support to Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis' spending plansImage: Louiza Vradi/REUTERS

The European Union on Thursday backed Greece's pandemic recovery plan of some €30.5 billion ($36.4 billion) as the eurozone member looks to revive its coronavirus-hit economy.


The endorsement came from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during an official ceremony in Athens.

The EU's green light "follows a thorough assessment by the Commission" of Greece’s plans, she said, announcing the backing for a package that includes a mix of loans and grants.

Greece has vowed to undertake a series of sweeping economic reforms in return for tapping a share of the EU’s €800 billion recovery fund.

The fund was set up last year to help EU member states deal with the economic fallout from the global pandemic.

How is Greece faring in economic terms?

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the plans were "a very important moment for Greece and for Europe."

Mitsotakis said he would introduce new legislation to help the environment, digital reform, boost employment and encourage private investment.

Greece welcomes back tourists

The country's tourism-reliant economy shrank by as much as 8.2% in 2020, scuppering Athens's efforts to rebound from a series of international bailouts.

Debt surged past 200% of Greece's annual economic output.

The relief funds will help bankroll digital archives and processing for the Greek justice system, improving highway networks, and building a coastal cycling path network near Athens.

The European Commission's approval of Greece's rescue plan means it is all but certain that EU governments will support the decision.

Greece: Edging back from the brink

Why does the Commission 'approve' budgets?

Officials at the EU executive won new powers in 2013 to vet member states' budgets as the bloc looked for ways to avoid a repeat of the 2010 sovereign debt crisis.

But its leaders rarely make endorsements of a country's budget plan without close consultations with EU capitals.

As many as 23 of the 27 EU governments have submitted their spending plans to the European Commission.

Diplomats there will be able to continually review whether they are sticking to their promises.

jf/sms (AP, Reuters)