Mr Juncker was asked by a Kathimerini journalist about the issue of the upcoming cuts on pensions in Greece. His answer was short and simple: “The measures that have already been agreed have to be implemented.”
This statement leaves no room for a re-negotiation that many officials in Greece were hoping for, since the cuts on pensions is yet another hard austerity measure that has to be implemented in Greece’s economy.
In the past few days Greek officials state that Athens has exceeded its fiscal targets for 2019 and the European Commission will back down on the issue of pension cuts. Some even speak with certainty that the measure will not apply on January 1st, 2019.
Government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos spoke to Real FM radio on Wednesday and appeared confident that Athens will not have to implement the pension cuts after all.
Greece’s finance ministry team made preliminary negotiations with the creditors’ team on the pension cuts issue on Wednesday, but there is no information on the outcome of the talks.
The Greek side argues that since the Greek economy will achieve a primary surplus that is higher than the agreed 3.5 percent in 2019, it is not necessary to have pensions slashed. They even propose to “exchange” pension cuts with some of the countermeasures, such as the reduction of corporate tax.
For Athens another favorable scenario is to push back the cuts for later. Alexis Tsipras sees that his constituency is disgruntled on a number of issues, such as the deadly East Attica fires and the FYROM name agreement, so further pension cuts on election year (2019) will damage his party.