Send EU pensioners to help Greece: commissioner

28th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Pensioners with useful skills from other countries could go to Greece to help boost the economy, European Union energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger suggested Thursday

"I can ... imagine former teachers from vocational schools or retired craftsmen from EU nations being sent there on a voluntary basis and for fixed periods of time," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily in his native Germany.

As well as cutting its spending and the two bailouts it is receiving from the EU and the International Monetary Fund -- worth more than than 200 billion euros ($290 billion) -- Greece needed a "recovery plan," Oettinger said.

This should be comparable with the mammoth investment plans drawn up by the German government in 1990 for the economically depressed former communist East Germany following reunification.

"We should send civil servants and other experts to Athens in order to help the Greek government strengthen its know-how," said Oettinger, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservatives.

"The costs should be shared between Greece and the country that the experts come from."

He also said that the West was in "crisis," with governments the world over spending more than they own. Greece was merely "an extreme example", he said.

"The whole of the Western world is living beyond its means," he said.

"We are not just talking about Greece. Europe has to become more frugal. This applies to Germany too ... German debts are rising while the number of taxpayers is falling," he said.

"Only a change of course can save the euro."

© 2011 AFP

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