The European Investment Bank has started an effort to help Greece’s economy to grow by channelling one billion euros of European funds to the country
The money, in the form of new loans, will go to infrastructure projects focused on the energy and transport sectors.
At a conference in Athens, the head of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer said Greece’s road to recovery will be long and difficult.
“Let us not fool ourselves, the road to stability will be long and bumpy. The challenges to come are significant and the sacrifices to come are enormous in addition to what have already been taken by the people. I want to salute our Greek friends for their courage and determination with which they are tackling the crisis.”
Hoyer added that the EIB assistance to Greece in 2011 was the highest ever, with the bank lending some two billion euros to small and medium sized businesses and projects.
Greece is in its fifth year of a deep recession. Austerity measures were implemented in 2010 for the first rescue loan by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and the second rescue loan includes more pension, job and wages cuts.
Critics of the austerity programme have said the Greek economy cannot recover if measures to promote growth in Greece are not introduced, as Greek banks are also tight, and investors are hesitant to enter in such an uncertain climate.
Hoyer said Greece must not lose the opportunity given by the second rescue package to reform the economy, as it marks a new start for the country.
“If the Greek people and the government seize this opportunity then the package approved in the early morning hours of Tuesday will mark a new beginning for Greece. And let me once again repeat, we will stand by you,” he said.