Germany urges Greece to accept offers of help

BERLIN Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:32am EST

BERLIN (Reuters) - Greece should accept Germany's offers of help, for example to create a more efficient system of taxation, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted as saying by a weekly paper on Sunday.

"We have been ready for quite a while for our finance officials to help the Greeks to help build a more efficient tax administration," Schaeuble told the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag, adding however that Athens had not yet accepted this offer.

But the idea could further ruffle feathers in Greece, which has reacted angrily to German calls for the appointment of a "budget commissioner", saying it would undermine national sovereignty.

Volker Kauder, parliamentary floor leader for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), also urged Greece to accept offers of help.

"Savings only will not be enough. We must also provide economic stimulus" he told mass-selling weekly "Bild am Sonntag". "This is why funds are available within the European regional fund."

The EU has large amounts of funds squirreled away in its long-term budget that could be released to help countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Kauder said Europe could thus help Greece to help itself, with a "Marshall plan like for Germany after World War Two."

"The money is there in the European Union budget, it just hasn't been asked for yet," he said.

Greece has around 15 billion euros ($19.7 billion) of unused funds from the 2007-2013 EU budget.

"I would also advise the Greeks to urgently take up the European offer to build a functioning administration," Kauder added.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by David Cowell)

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