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16 June, 2001
Economic growth in the European Union will be slower in 2001 than forecasts predicted, as fall out from the slowing US economy and the borderline recession in Japan began to affect the economies of the 15 nation block, the economy ministers of the Union concluded during the summit meetings here.
Greek National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who represented Greece in the meetings, said that the slowing US economy and high petrol prices were to be blamed for the economic slowdown in the Union's economy.
"The EU should depend more on its own forces, increase its productivity and support its development based mostly on domestic demand, if it wishes to secure high growth rates," Papantoniou told reporters after the meetings.
He stressed that the social cohesion and solidarity policies, which were decided upon during the Lisbon summit, were not fully implemented and called for specific measures to promote structural reforms in the Union and support for the social character of the state in all member-states.
This Greek proposal, Papantoniou said, echoed the feelings of other states as well, including Belgium, Britain and Portugal.
He stressed, however, that these international conditions would have a lesser effect on Greece's economy, as tax cuts in Greece over the past two years have strengthened domestic demand, which is also boosted by dropping interest rates in home and consumer loans.
Papantoniou also referred to moneys entering the Greek market from projects to be funded by the third community support framework fund of the European Union, which in turn will promote public investment in infrastructure in the country.
He added that through prudent fiscal management that lead to a budget surplus, Greece would be the only country of the EU to achieve a higher growth rate in 2001 than it did in 2000.
He concluded, however, that the high rates of growth did not absolve the Greek government of the obligation to speed up structural changes that aim to increase the Greek economy's competitiveness.
Source: Athens News Agency