EC to Greece: Allocate surplus to social needs but cover other arrears too

Commission aware of Tsipras announcements is in the position to know that the European Commission will officially react to the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras’s announcement Thursday to provide benefits to low income pensioners, on Friday afternoon. Top ranking Commission officials stressed the Greek PM’s announcements were barely within the limits of the agreement between Greece and its creditors, adding that although the representatives of the institutions would not object to their implementation, they would remind Greek authorities of their other financial responsibilities based on the bailout program. The EC is expected to acknowledge the burden Greece had shouldered due to the refugee crisis, leaving the prospect of suspending the VAT tax on the eastern Aegean islands until a future date open. The Commission will most likely take a neutral stance on the provision of a 13th pension, in an effort to avoid either condoning or rejecting the policy. The statement by the EC spokesperson will recognise the Greek government’s prerogative to allocate its budget surplus towards social benefits, as stipulated in the program. The same program, however, provides for the settlement of other arrears via the surplus, which the government has delayed doing so far. The statement will underline that the talks between Greece and its creditors will continue unabated. It should be noted that despite the initial impression that the Commission was caught off guard, Brussels were in fact privy to the Greek PM’s announcements, as Alexis Tsipras had briefed Economic and Finance Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici during the latter’s recent visit in Athens.