No let-up on Greek reforms because of migrants, Moscovici says

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 04, 2015 5:33 AM

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's migrant crisis should not lead it to let up on reforms needed to comply with its multi-billion-euro bailout, European Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday.

More than 590,000 migrants and refugees have passed through Greece since the start of the year. On a visit to Athens, Moscovici was asked if allowances should be made for countries bearing the brunt of the flood of people.

"The Commission has but one compass, that of the growth and stability pact, and rules should be implemented," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

"Concerning Greece, we have another compass, the adoption of the memorandum of understanding and the (reform) program. Nothing should make us loosen these reforms."

The EU has offered to pay for accommodating 20,000 more migrants. Private groups have also pledged aid; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, for example, has promised to provide 12.7 million Swiss francs ($12.8 million) over the next seven months.

But Greece has already spent 1.5 billion euros on reception centers and staff to handle the migrants, a government source told Reuters. It needs 100 million euros for identification and relocation, the source said.

The costs come as the country is struggling to meet the terms of an 86 billion-euros bailout earlier this year. Greece's international creditors have still not released all of a tranche totaling three billion euros out of an initial 26 billion-euro installment of the bailout.

It is being held up by a divergence of views between Athens and creditors on coming up with an effective mechanism for the country's troubled banks - which will be receiving bailout aid - to address non-performing loans affecting thousands of mortgage holders.

"We agree we must protect the most vulnerable. But we also have to find a solution about those who go bankrupt to avoid their obligations," Moscovici said, referring to strategic defaulters.

Greece wants to guard against foreclosure on primary residences by setting a higher threshold on property valuations.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki Koutantou, writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Larry King)