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Antonio Tajani meets with PM Loukas Papademos and opens the conference on growth in Athens

Athens, Friday, 20 April - This morning European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, met the Greek Prime Minister Loukas Papademos on the sidelines of the conference on growth, promoted by the European Commission and the Greek government. Watch the meeting on EbS

Greece is experiencing an unprecedented economic and social crisis which is also reflected in the great difficulties of Greek SMEs: six out of ten enterprises have seen their income reduced in 2011 and lost 150 000 jobs. It is estimated that during the first half of 2012 about 1000 SMEs will close every week. In this context, Vice President Tajani and the Greek Prime Minister faced the issue of the need of urgency actions to support Greece's efforts. The discussions focused on the strategy for growth in Greece, which has been approved on Wednesday by the College of Commissioners, with particular regard to access to credit for SMEs, internationalization, industrial innovation and tourism.

In the opening of the conference Growth in Greece: Entrepreneurship and SMEs in Europe 2020 strategy along with Papademos, Tajani stressed that "Greece is not alone in facing this huge challenge. The Communication adopted on Wednesday shows the strong commitment of Europe to support Greece." Tajani added that "without growth, we cannot face one of the main Greek challenges, the unemployment rate, which reached 21%, touching the intolerable level of more than 45% for young people. And without growth, it will not even be possible to restore public finance". For the Vice President "we should not deceive ourselves. Without a return to industry, more competitiveness and export, more entrepreneurship, young generation more willing to start their own business, the Greek economy will not start up again. Therefore it's essential to work on access to credit for SMEs, a better business environment, industrial innovation and internationalization." Read full speech pdf - 101 KB [101 KB]

Tajani also met the Minister for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, Anna Diamantopoulou.

Tajani's mission is part of a series of visits to European countries, which are in the foreground of the crisis. Yesterday he met the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. After Greece, Tajani will be in Spain and in Germany on Tuesday 24, Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26, where he will meet Angela Merkel. 

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