Greece’s last chance to modernize and how the energy sector can bring Greek expats back was the main subject the got debated on 26 June in Brussels.
European Commission’s Chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, Chairman of the Greek Energy Forum Alex Lagakos, Deputy Director-General for Energy of the European Commission Gerassimos Thomas, Member of European Parliament and Spokesperson for energy policy of Greens-EFA Claude Turmes, EPP MEP from Greece Maria Spyraki, co-founder of Brain Gain Orestis Omran, Mission Chief for Greece of the European Commission Declan Costello and New Europe Editor Alexandros Koronakis, discussed how young Greeks can return to their home country, with real perspective.
Schinas’ introductory speech on energy-driven job creation emphasized on improving solidarity and improve Greece’s perspective. “The Greek education system needs to open for those to succeed despite socioeconomic backgrounds,” said the European Commission chief spokesperson.”We are coming at the end of the program,” added Schinas, suggesting that “the time is now” for Greece. “We have a momentum – never before was the political atmospherics better to discuss”.
“The Brain gain generation will not simply want to come back to the nest, they link their return to Greece with an ambition to correct the pathology,” said Schinas. “All of this generation are passionate Europeans, they know what it takes to earn the single market”.
Greek Energy Forum deputy head Lagakos, presented shocking numbers where 97% of Greeks that have left throughout the crisis is not even thinking to return to back to Greece, due to the lack of perspective.
EU executive member for energy Thomas focused on the need for more innovation and efficiency. “We need more innovation. Energy efficiency should be a no.1 priority,” said Thomas underlining the role of principles of the electricity market. “Without principles of how electricity market functions, no need for electricity cables, pipelines”.
Greens MEP Turmes emphasized on the insufficient policies on Energy that Greece still runs under, at a great cost to its citizens: “€550 million per year goes for paying inefficient diesel on Greek islands. Is there no sun on those islands?” wondered Turmes. “It’s not only about money, it is also about ideas.”
On the right side of the political spectrum, MEP Spyraki of the EPP focused on the need of improving the situation at Greece’s Public Power Company (PPC). Both at national and EU level, implementing Energy Union policies “could bring up to 900000 net additional jobs to EU economy by 2030,” added Spyaki.
Costello: It is still too difficult to do business in Greece
Focusing on Greece’s recovery, European Commission’s Mission chief for Greece’s Financial Assistance Program Declan Costello, suggested that Athens is now on track, after managing to conclude with the second review of the third bailout, after a significant delay. “Period of liquidity is coming to an end,” added Costello, after mid-July disbursement of the program is finalized.
As for Energy market, all of the primary legislation is essentially done, suggested Costello, adding that Athens and the institutions now must focus more on the implementation of what has been agreed and voted. “It is basically about implementing,” said Costello on what “has always been the ‘Achilles tendon’ of the Greek program,” added Costello.
“There is a year ahead of us,” added the Mission Chief, underlining that what Greece needs is program ownership. However, “we cannot legislate ownership,” but there has to be “a common understanding across the government and hopefully across the political spectrum that these are basically the right approaches that Greece needs” as next steps. “A real growth strategy” that needs work both on implementation and ownership. “There is no magic bullet,” underlined Costello. “We have not seen an integrated strategy from Greece, it needs to get alongside an independent regulator.”
“The barriers to investments are there, making it just too difficult to do business in Greece,” added Costello, referring to other obstacles than capital controls. “I ask Greeks of the diaspora, why they do not invest in Greece, why don’t they put their money back. Because it is just too difficult. this has to be done by removing all the unnecessary barriers,” concluded Costello.