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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Was 2013 "The Year of the EU Task Force for Greece"?

A year ago, my New Year's Eve proposal was that the year 2013 should be made "The Year of the EU Task Force for Greece". Well, what can be said about that in retrospect?

The TFGR had been established by the EU in 2011 so that its resources could be used by Greek authorities to meet 3 great challenges facing the country and Greek society:

1. Supporting growth, employment and competitiveness.
2. Enabling growth through reform of Greek public administration.
3. Maintaining progress towards fiscal consolidation.

Its key mission was summarized as follows:

The Task Force is a resource at the disposal of the Greek authorities as they seek to build a modern and prosperous Greece: a Greece characterised by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos. 

To date, the TFGR has published five reports, two of which during 2013: one in April and one in October.

When the TFGR was established, I thought it was one of the greatest things for Greece since sliced bread. There was, on one hand, Greece, a country which badly needed technical advice and help in all matters relating to bringing the country into modernity and, on the other hand, there were other European countries which had centuries of know-how in public administration and so forth. I thought Greece would jump enthusiastically at the opportunity and facilitate an accelerated transition to modernity.

I recognize that the TFGR has to keep a low profile for political reasons. The impression must be avoided that 'foreigners are showing Greeks how to run their country' (even though that's what the TFGR was and should be all about).

The TFGR's progress reports are diligent excercises in demonstrating and documenting success. There is a lot of talk about 'broadening and deepening technical assistance'; about 'helping to build the administrative capacity to prepare and implement reforms'; about 'helping the Greek administration to better service the needs of its citizens'; etc. etc.

I am certain that there were quite a lot of tangible results accomplished through the assistance of the TFGR. There better be some tangible results after 2-1/2 years!

What I have not seen todate - and this is what I had in mind when I wrote my New Year's Eve proposal a year ago -  is that the TFGR would become a widely recognized and appreciated force of change in Greece; change for the better; change for better public administration. No country can use its potential if there is not an efficient public administration and if there are not strong institutions.

Thus, I propose for 2014 the same which I had proposed a year ago today, namely: that 2014 become "The Year of the EU Task Force for Greece!"

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