Priorities of Greek EU Presidency – Illegal migration, youth unemployment targeted

GrigoriosVassiloconstandakis, Greek ambassador to Bucharest, presented on Wednesday the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency, listing among others the objectives of ensuring economic growth, combating youth unemployment, expanding the Union, and creating a Monetary Union. “Greece is taking over the Presidency at a time when Europe is going through a very delicate stage. The size and intensity of the crisis, as well as the depth of recession and unemployment have shattered a significant portion of European citizens’ trust in EU institutions and seriously affected social cohesion. Our challenge is to ensure prosperity and stability,” the Greek ambassador stated at the EU Greek Presidency launch conference held on January 1.
According to the Greek ambassador, Greece has set out as goal for its Presidency term the full implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs, as well as the enforcement of “decisions made in June 2013 toward increasing lending capacity to SMEs, who are the main employers in the European economy.” Athens also hopes to implement “The youth initiative aimed at creating jobs for a very vulnerable segment of the population,” as underlined by the Greek ambassador. Other targets on the Greek agenda include continuing negotiations toward signing commercial agreements with the U.S. and other strategic partners, migration, border management, and mobility of EU citizens. “One major objective for the Greek Presidency will be creating an area of freedom, security, and justice. Today’s Europe is haunted by the economic crisis and we need to consolidate the common European policies on justice and internal affairs. Firstly, we will try to stop and diminish illegal migration efficiently and without infringing upon human rights. Secondly, we will improve and reorganize legal migration and facilitate mobility. Thirdly, we will focus on synergies between migration and economic growth,” Vassiloconstandakis said, as cited by Mediafax.
In turn, Foreign Affairs Minister Titus Corlatean assured the Greek diplomat that Greece can count “on Romania’s full support with regard to its European agenda.” “Together, we are attempting to reach common European objectives. An efficient management of the financial crisis and the strengthening of the EU’s profile as an important player on the world stage are only some of the difficulties and challenges that we will face. There is no challenge greater than the financial crisis and unemployment levels, especially among youths. Just as important is strengthening the EU’s democratic legitimacy by narrowing the gap between citizens and the Union, and by renewing confidence in a common European future, particularly given that European Parliamentary elections are to be held in several months from now to create a new European Parliament,” the Foreign Affairs Minister stated.
The head of Romanian diplomacy also brought the focus back on the xenophobe and anti-European movements generated by parties who “promote an emotional political discourse based on stereotypes.” “If Europe fails to meet the expectations of its citizens, these parties could leave a lasting print on future political decisions. 2014 is a landmark year. Most European institutions will have a different leadership and I think this is an opportunity to find the best answer – progress by way of European accession (…),” FM Corlatean concluded.

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