Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: It is great to see you again, there’s a lot to discuss, but I have to report that we’ve made significant progress since we last met, as a country.

As you know, the enhanced surveillance regime will be coming to an end in August. We all put a lot of work in making sure that this very painful chapter for the country, which essentially started twelve years ago, is coming to an end.

And, of course, on various topics that are of interest to you I think we’ve made good progress on many parts and I would like to thank you personally, but also your services. I think we have a very good and honest cooperation. But also regarding digital, which I know is your great passion, I think we’ve done a lot in Greece on that front.

We used COVID as an accelerator to really push through digital services at an unprecedented pace. Of course there’s a lot that remains to be done also in terms of digital infrastructure. I know you also had a good meeting with Minister Pierakakis and we’re really looking forward to using the RRF funds to further drive through this transformation.

And, of course, I would also like to congratulate you on your leadership regarding the European initiatives that we’ve taken in the digital space. I think it is important that there is a cutting edge regulatory, public policy making regime which is emerging out of Europe when we are talking about big tech companies. With all the benefits that they bring we shouldn’t not recognize that there is also another side we need to pay attention to.

My personal congratulations regarding your unwavering energy in terms of investing in this very important file.

Margrethe Vestager: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate very much you saying this, because it’s all up to the teams. The work that’s been done over the years in the digital files, many people have been engaged and focusing. Same thing, I think, on all the aid that was needed during the pandemic. The team is working twenty four seven (24/7) and working I think very well with our colleagues here in Greece. So it is the work of teams that makes it happen.

But it has been more or less a visit of congratulations, because what Greece has achieved over the last years is really impressive. And we’re in this macro crisis of war, energy, inflation, climate and I think unfortunately that sort of subdued celebrations that ought to be held for the enhanced surveillance to stop.

Because the fact that this has been achieved. I was there first hand watching this. And back then I think a lot of people, they doubted if this was possible, if this was ever going to happen. And now when it’s a success, of course it has many fathers. But I think rightfully your government has been doing a lot to make this happen. It should also not, I think, go untold the pain and the sacrifice of the Greek people in order to get here, because it has been painful.

It is painful to correct an economic path that has been so wrong. So I think also, in that respect, it says something really impressive also about Greek society. But you know how it is with news. Good news, page four, bad news, front page.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Every time, when we get to this time of the year, end of June, beginning of July, we remember what happened in 2015 and how close we came to a complete catastrophe. We paid a very heavy price for choices that were made during that year.

But I think you’re right to point out that Greek society has proven incredibly resilient. We’ve also demonstrated that you can shift from a low growth to a high growth potential while at the same time making sure that the growth is inclusive, that we address the concerns of the young people, that it is digitally smart and environmentally sustainable.

This is what we’re trying to achieve. Our goal, and my personal goal, was always to not repeat the mistakes of the past. We want a growth that is investment-driven, innovation driven, and not consumption-driven, fueled by debt. So we’re very conscious of the fact that whatever we do in terms of public intervention needs to be viewed within the constraints of our fiscal policy.

And that is why we’ve been able to, I think, target our measures, also our post-pandemic measures, measures related to inflation, in a smart way.

But you know something? If it were not for the digital transformation we would not have been able to do so. I’m sure there are European countries that cannot deliver right now targeted assistance because they simply don’t have the ability of the various databases to talk to each other. When we want, for example, to deliver a targeted approach we can actually do it. We were not able to do so three years ago. We would have relied on horizontal measures which we know are not effective.