Commissioner: Eurozone pessimists proved wrong over 'Grexit'

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The Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Olli Rehn, has insisted that the risk of a breakup of the eurozone and a Greek exit - known as the "Grexit" - from the EU have "all but disappeared".

Opening an inter-parliamentary session on the European Semester on 29 January 2013, he said 2012 had been a "decisive" year when decisions were taken to ensure the sustainability of the eurozone.

He added that the "countless Cassandras and doomsday prophets predicting the breakup of the eurozone" had been proved wrong.

The semester is a six-month cycle of scrutiny of the economies of EU countries, resulting in the publication of country-specific guidance to countries whose policies and budgets are out of line.

The cycle is started by the annual growth survey, published in November. The most recent survey raised particular concerns about youth unemployment, highlighting that it has hit 50% in some countries.

Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor warned that despite signs of growth in some countries, there was still wide variation with rising unemployment in many countries.

He said the crisis was "not only an economic crisis but a crisis of confidence in our future and values," warning that a quarter of the EU's population was at risk of joblessness.

He urged national government to have a better understanding of "social investment," urging further funding for training, employment services and youth guarantee schemes.

The session brought together parliamentarians from national parliaments with members of the European Parliament, and concluded with a debate focusing on the EU's budget.

Baroness O'Cathain, a Conservative peer from the UK House of Lords, used the session to highlight the role of the EU in funding research and development projects.

She asked the Commission to make clear how the EU carried out cost/benefit analyses of research projects, given that their financial benefit were often not known for many years in the future.

The inter-parliamentary session will conclude from 8am on 30 January, with a keynote speech from the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

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