The European Commission is continuing to push for more detail from Greece on how the country intends to reduce its budget deficit. Speaking to Europolitics, on 6 January - the date Commission and European Central Bank experts were, according to Greek media, landing in Athens to discuss the issue - a spokesman for the EU executive said it was up to the Greek government to implement the measures necessary to "put public finances on a credible and sustainable path". "The measures you need to take to reduce the deficit are to be taken at national level," the spokesperson added.

The Commission was also refusing to comment on whether the expert delegation had even reached Athens, saying only that it "acknowledges the existence of discussions at technical level".

The news comes as Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou announced, on 5 January, that his country would reduce its 2009 deficit - which stands at 12.7%, the highest in the EU - to below the EU's 3% limit by 2012, a year earlier than planned. The EU has given Ireland and the UK - which have similarly high deficits - until 2014 and 2015 to cut spending.

Papaconstantinou said Greece would "frontload" budget cuts, amounting to a 4% of GDP reduction during 2010. A statement from the Greek Finance Ministry says the main elements of the plan will be "sweeping reforms" in the tax system, the budgeting process, social security, the public sector and building a green economy'. The Commission has yet to receive details on how this is to be done, but said it expects a new stability programme from Athens in the course of January.

Under the Stability...

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