EU Commission: EU Commission: we’re not demanding anyone’s pension be cut

EU Commission: EU Commission: we’re not demanding anyone’s pension be cut
By Efi Koutsokosta
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The tension in the negotiations between the Greek government and the institutions is getting deeper after the failure of the weekend’s talks in Brussels.

The EU Commission strongly reacted on Monday after the Greek government’s claims that the Institutions demanded direct cuts of pensions and wages by 1,8 billion euros per year.

“It is a gross misunderstanding of facts to say that the institutions have called or are calling for cuts in individual pensions” said the EC Spokesperson Annika Berthard and added that “Yes, the pension system is one of the most expensive parts of spending and one of the most expensive systems in Europe and therefore a reform of the pension system is part of the requirements”.

Explaining what she means by reforming , she stressed that this can be done not by cutting individual pensions but “by phasing out early retirement, by prolonging pension age, removing incorrect incentives for early retirement and making the Greek pension system financially sustainable in the long run”.

According to the Commission spokesperson in charge of economic affairs, the pension reform is a part of the requirements and although the institutions’ joint proposal was calling for measures of 1% of GDP per year, the Greek delegation proposed no measures in 2015 and some measures of about 71 million euros in 2016 which represents only 0,04% of GDP.

In addition, she added that the EU Commission is open to resume talks only when the Greek side comes up with a new proposal along the lines of what was agreed between Tsipras and Juncker during their individual talks.

At the same time the EC spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas stressed that “the commission is a mediator not a creditor” and he added that “Mr Juncker is disappointed because despite his constant efforts to facilitate progress on the talks, this progress is not obvious”.

Behind the scenes of failure

The representatives of the institutions seem to be really outraged by the Greek stance.

According to EU sources, the Greek government asked for a meeting last weekend after missing the deadline for the submission of a new proposal through an e-mail.

The same sources stress that the representatives from the ESM, the IMF and the ECB had been on the 13th floor of the Commission’s main building since Saturday, ready to start talks but the Greek delegation came without even one document.

Finally, as they claim, the Institutions’ representatives took the proposal which was considered unsatisfactory and asked the Greek delegation to come back on Sunday afternoon with a new proposal adapted and in line with the targets set by the joint Institutions’ proposal.

According to the same sources, the Greek representatives came back on Sunday with exactly the same proposal as the day before without any amendment.

For this reason, they stress, there was no basis for further discussions.

At the same time, Mr Schinas said that the only real deadline is the 30 of June when the extension of the Greek program expires.

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