PRESIDENCY : ATHENS HAS FOUR MONTHS TO PROVE ITSELF.

 
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Welcoming the full College of Commissioners - under tight security conditions - in Athens on 8 January, the Greek coalition government (New Democracy-Pasok) officially took over the rotating Presidency of the European Union for the fifth time since Greece's accession to the EU in 1981. However, the new Presidency - taking over from Lithuania - is a rather weak one. While the country's economic prospects are undoubtedly more positive than they were in 2013, the overwhelming size of Greek debt (176% of the GDP) remains extremely worrying. Nonetheless, as Greece awaits yet another visit from the Troika next week, as well as Eurostat's verdict in April on Greek economic statistics (which will determine whether or not a new adjustment programme is feasible), the country's Finance Minister, Yannis Stournaras, is confident that "in theory we have enough money until 2016". In theory at least. The Eurogroup will debate this in the spring, but no decision is expected before the European elections.

Moreover, Athens must adjust to an extremely tight EU schedule. Due to the European elections, the Presidency has in reality only four months to convince the Union and Europeans that Greece will be able to maintain - despite repeated budgetary cuts and a budget deficit of 50 million - a leadership worthy of its position and capable of managing the EU agenda. "The Greek Presidency is not a choice...

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