Yesterday, during meetings in Brussels, the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council of the European Union accepted the schedule for deficit reductions proposed two weeks ago by the Greek government, including a 4%-of- GDP reduction in the deficit in 2010 and a deficit below 3% of GDP by 2012, while requiring the submission of various progress reports and the implementation of various "specific budgetary consolidation measures, including those presented in its stability programme." The Council did not make any specific decisions on whether Greece would receive financial aid or the manner in which such aid might be provided.
The directive from the Council comes in light of Greece's "excessive" government deficit, "shortcomings in Greece's public finance statistics," and the failure to "intensify efforts to address the macro-economic imbalances and structural weaknesses in the Greek economy." Following debate on Greece's government debt and deficit, the Council specifically adopted a decision giving notice to Greece to remedy its excessive deficit by 2012 and recommending that Greece bring its economic policies "into line with the European Union's broad economic policy guidelines," thereby "removing the risk of jeopardizing the proper function of economic and monetary union." The Council also called on Greece to "design and implement as soon as possible, starting in 2010, a bold and comprehensive structural reform package." covering "wages, pension reform, healthcare reforms, public administrations, the product market, the business environment, productivity and employment growth."