PORTO –Greece will play a leading role in the effort to build a social Europe, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the informal European Union Summit in Portugal, on Saturday.
Speaking on the second and final day of the summit, the Greek premier added that, in this context, Greece has offered the Portuguese EU presidency its undivided support towards making the European social agenda a top priority.
Mitsotakis also raised the need for a swift implementation of the so-called 'green' vaccination certificate, so that citizens can start travelling to other countries without further delay.
In his address, the premier also stood explicitly in favor of the coronavirus vaccine patents waiver, as he has been, he said, supporting the issue since April and May 2020, "in view of minimizing the gap between developed and developing countries."
The Greek Prime Minister also reiterated his support to the Cypriot government for a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus, a solution compatible with the European acquis and Cyprus' status as an EU member country, he underlined.
More good jobs and fewer inequalities
More good jobs and fewer inequalities should define economic recovery after the pandemic, said Kyriakos Mitsotakis in statements at the start of the second day of the informal European Union Summit in Portugal.
"Europe should enter a swift recovery mode if social provisions are expected to come into fruition," he noted, "by putting into good use all available financial tools."
The Greek premier said he was referring specifically to the National Recovery & Resilience Plan "Greece 2.0", which he estimated would be approved by European institutions by the end of June.
Post-pandemic recovery, therefore, must be characterized by better working conditions overall, he stressed, with the tackling of all labor inequalities being a top priority.
To this effect, Greece will play a leading role at national and European level, he underlined.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis waits for the start of an informal dinner event during an EU summit at the Crystal Palace in Porto, Portugal, Friday, May 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Luis Vieira, Pool)
Creating new jobs means attracting more investments to Greece
The government has "managed to keep the unemployment rate at pre-Covid-19 levels," Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the informal European Union Summit in Portugal, speaking at yesterday's workshop on work and employment.
Mitsotakis pointed out in his intervention that "spending money to protect jobs during a pandemic is a good investment and the right choice (…) but the transition from protecting jobs to creating new ones is a very different exercise, and much more complicated."
Creating new jobs in Greece entails investments, not just consumption, he said, which means that Greece "must become a more attractive investment destination". The country will receive 32 billion euros from the EU's Recovery Fund, of which 19 billion euros will come from direct subsidies, and a large portion of these will be directed to investments with a green or a digital focus, while another will go to skills-building and active job-related policies. "In Greece, we plan to spend over 3 billion euros on these policies, a significant amount given the country's size," the Greek premier said.
Mitsotakis also cited the example of local interventions, such as those related to the transition to a carbon-free future. "To give you an example, yesterday we shut down operations in a power-producing unit running on lignite in northern Greece which had been active for nearly 50 years," he said, adding that a carbon-free future means "paying particular attention to these lignite-producing regions." Greece plans to invest nearly 5 billion euros in that region of western Macedonia, to smooth the transition.
He also spoke of the gig economy as a particularly significant for young people, who are the majority of workers in such jobs, to be adequately protected. Related to this, Mitsotakis mentioned the government's new legislation, which introduces the right for an employee to sign off and not be available 24/7 for his employer, and the right of workers to set up unions online and to have access to basic health and safety gear, regardless of their type of contract. "These are significant welfare issues that I hope will be adopted one day at European level as well," the Greek premier said.