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Greece

EU executive says Greece behind schedule in debt reduction efforts

The European Commission has urged Greece to redouble its efforts to bring down the country's massive debt load faster. It said in a progress report the struggling eurozone nation appeared unable to meet agreed targets.

In its latest assessment of a bailout-related economic adjustment program for Greece, the European Commission concluded Friday the southern eurozone member looked set to miss long-term targets for the reduction of the country's public debt.

As hopes increased in Athens the domestic economy might finally turn a corner with the nation recently having returned to the bond market, EU officials insisted Greece's debt load was still a huge nightmare.

The EU executive noted in its report the nation's mountain of debt totaled more than 170 percent of overall economic output, marking the largest such burden on the economy across the 28-member bloc.

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One of the conditions attached to the international bailout scheme for Greece had been for the country to get its debt down to 124 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 and below 110 percent by 2022. But the most recent estimates see Greece ending up with a debt rate of 125 percent of GDP in 2020 and at least 112 percent two years later.

"This represents a deterioration compared to the previous targets," the Commission remarked laconically, attributing the development to delays in the negotiated privatization of government assets.

The International Monetary Fund, which had also been involved in the rescue scheme for Greece, said it hoped eurozone governments would live up to expectations and adopt additional measures to help the country consolidate its budget.

The bloc's finance ministers had agreed in 2012 to consider more efforts, if Athens fell short of debt targets. At the time they cited lower interest rates to be paid by Greece as one possibility to ease the nation's financial burden.

hg/lw (dpa, European Commission)

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