On 20 July 2011, President Barroso launched a Task Force to provide technical assistance to Greece. The President’s proposals were supported by the 23-24 June European Council consultations with Prime Minister Papandreou.
The purpose of the Task Force is to identify and coordinate the technical assistance that Greece needs to deliver of the EU/IMF adjustment programme and accelerate the absorption of EU funds. Its work will focus on economic growth, competitiveness and employment and it will provide quarterly progress reports to the Greek authorities and to the European Commission.
The Task Force will be based in Brussels, with a support team in Athens. It will report to the President and work under the political guidance of Commissioner Olli Rehn.
What is the mission of the Task Force?
The main objectives of the Task Force are:
- identify and coordinate, in close cooperation with Greece and benefitting from input from other Member States, the technical assistance that Greece needs to deliver the EU/IMF adjustment programme;
- assist the relevant Greek authorities in defining the details of the kind of technical assistance to be provided;
- recommend legislative, regulatory, administrative and if necessary (re)programming measures for an accelerated take-up of EU funds, focussing on competitiveness, growth and employment/training;
- provide quarterly progress reports to the Commission and the Greek authorities. The first such report will address measures for an accelerated take-up of EU funds, including a concrete plan and time schedule, and be sent to the Commission and Greek authorities by the end of October.
Will the Task Force monitor the implementation of the EU/IMF adjustment programme?
The review of the implementation of the EU/IMF adjustment programmes is the responsibility of the joint Commission/ECB/IMF expert teams (the so-called “Troika”). The TF’s role is to provide the technical assistance.
What kind of technical assistance will the Task Force for Greece provide?
The Task Force will identify and agree with the relevant Greek authorities all kinds of technical assistance needed by Greece to deliver on the structural reforms agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika. This could include issues such as the creation of e-services for the Greek administration and citizens, the modernisation of the national tax administration, the development of e-procurement in the health sector, as well as the possibly related training for any such measure.
Is this Task Force being imposed on Greece in the context of the adjustment programme?
Absolutely not. The Task Force constitutes an offer of technical assistance to Greece by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Council during its meeting on 23 and 24 June 2011 and July 21. Its creation and mandate were decided by the President of the Commission and the Greek Prime Minister.
It should be noted that there were already in the past months a group of Commission officials seconded to the Greek authorities to provide Greece with technical assistance. The Task Force is an additional important step by the EU to help Greece to overcome the economic difficulties they are facing.
Are the members of the Task Force going to replace Ministries’ officials? Can they take decisions on behalf of the Ministers?
No. The Task Force consists of Commission and Member States experts detached in order to identify, coordinate and provide technical advice to Greece. They will be working on specific projects jointly identified with the Greek authorities. They are not inspectors or auditors and under no circumstances will they exert functions which are the exclusive competence of the Greek government and administration. The Task Force will have a support team in Athens to facilitate coordination.
How will the Task Force be staffed?
It will be under the direct responsibility of the Head of the Task Force and under the political guidance of Commissioner Rehn. It will report to the President of the Commission and to relevant Commissioners, including the Commissioners responsible for Regional Policy (Commission Hahn) and for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (Commissioner Andor).
Mr Horst Reichenbach has been appointed as Head of the Task Force. Mr. Reichenbach has a proven track record as vice-President of the EBRD and is also a former Director-General of the European Commission. Other members of the Task Force include Jorgen Holmquist and David Wright and a number of Commission officials and national experts seconded from Member States’ ministries. The Task Force will be based in Brussels, with a support team in Athens.
When will it start working?
The Task Force started its work on 1 September. The necessary preparatory work, such as assessing the needs with the Greek government and the recruiting procedure for the members of the Task Force, is under way.
What will be the financial cost of the Task Force for Greece?
Very low. Members of the Task Force will be Commission officials and seconded national experts, financially covered by their institution/country of origin. Other operational and administrative costs will be covered by the available EU budget, in full accordance with the established budgetary procedures.