Athens, March 4th 2011 - As part of his campaign to raise awareness about the opportunities about how the EU's Europe 2020 strategy can help improve the employment situation across the EU, Commissioner László Andor spoke at the Greek Parliament's Standing Committee on Social Affairs and Special Standing Committee on European Affairs, in Athens.
During this visit, Mr Andor recognised Greece's recovery efforts saying how "Fiscal consolidation and structural reforms in Greece have produced results but need to continue, with more emphasis on investment and employment".
The Commissioner underlined the need for bold reforms. Speaking to journalists the Commissioner said "There is a broad consensus that a new economic model is required, where economic growth needs to be smart - in other words, driven by knowledge and innovation; environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive - that means capable of fostering high levels of employment and social cohesion". Under the Europe 2020 strategy , ambitious employment and social policy targets have been agreed and the Commission has put forward concrete initiatives like "Youth on the Move " and "News Skills and New Jobs " to help Member States reach these targets.
Mr Andor also visited a European Social Fund project in Athens where he emphasised the opportunities the Fund can offer. The economic crisis means more jobseekers are looking for more assistance, yet spending needs to stay as low as possible. Speaking at the project visit, Commissioner Andor explained that "The European Social Fund in Greece focuses on programmes across the country that can help address the effects of the economic crisis. However, the absorption rate of these funds needs to be improved, as well as the effectiveness of programmes. The Commission is there to assist and support where it can". The European Social Fund can help in many ways through actions that support training, apprenticeships, employment subsidies and support for reforms in education and training systems. Between 2007 and 2013 the ESF will spend over € 4.3 billion in Greece.
Greece brought its deficit down by 6 % in 2009. Recent projections suggest that the Greek economy will begin to grow during the second half of 2011 and in 2012.