Athens Digest 20.03.2019

• No white smoke from talks on household insolvency

• Commission’s conference in Athens: Focus on priorities for sustainable growth

• Unhappy with benefits? Survey reveals extent of Greek anxiety

Study: Crisis reversed 15 years of private education spending

# Negotiations between Greece and creditors on new household insolvency rules have failed to overcome differences between two sides less than a week before a new target date for an agreement. Government officials last night said the talks headed by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos failed to shift positions of creditor institutions which argue that terms supported in Athens are still too generous, do not adequately reset existing regulations, and would not sufficiently improve the weak prevailing payment culture. Greece’s is hoping to reach agreement by March 25 at a Euro-working group meeting so that Eurogroup ministers can sign off of debt relieve measures worth EUR 974 billion at their next meeting on April 5.

# Senior figures from European and international institutions are in Athens to discuss options for the country’s post-bailout growth strategy. Speakers at the one-day conference at the Acropolis Museum include Maarten Verwey, director general of the Structural Reform Support Service of the European Commission and Declan Costello, mission chief for Greece. The event is being organised by the European Commission and Greece’s Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, IOBE.

# Greeks are among the most worried about the ability of their welfare and social protection system to shield them from the effects of poverty, a survey from the OECD has found. In a country where 70 percent of respondents say covering basic financial needs is a concern, Greece showed the highest level of dissatisfaction with some 80 percent describing the level of benefits they receive as being too low for the amount of taxes they pay. The survey average was close to 60 percent. Despite years of crisis and corrective measures, Greece still has among the highest levels of public spending on social protection in the European Union, according to the data released by Eurostat. Overall spending on social security in Greece was 19.4 percent of GDP, above the EU average of 18.8 percent.

On our Radar: Crisis hammers private education
Spending on private education plummeted during Greece’s financial crisis, wiping out more than a decade on increases, according to a new study. The IOBE survey found that spending in 2016 returned to the level recorded in the early 2000s after unemployment and job insecurity soared and disposable income evaporated.
IN real terms, household spending on private education fell sharply after 2009, following a period of significant growth: From EUR 2.8 billion in 2004 to EUR 3.3 billion in 2009, and EUR 2.1 billion in 2016.