GREECE/EU: Athens fights EU on farmer payments
Greece has appealed at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against a European Commission order that it return almost EUR425m of EU subsidies.
The money had been given to farmers in 2008-9 by the then conservative New Democracy government as compensation for crop damages incurred in 2008. However, the European Commission has condemned the move as an illegal state subsidy and has demanded the money be recouped.
The Greek government told just-food it is hopeful it will win the case. Konstantinos Zogas, director of the Greek ministry of rural development, said: "When talking about court battle nothing is certain [but] legal counsel suggests Athens has a good chance."
Former New Democracy agriculture minister Sotiris Hatzigakis was confident the Court will exonerate Greece and claims a 2009 EU Council of Ministers decision allowed member states to support farmers as they saw fit because 2008-2009 had been particularly hard for agriculture. "Greece will not have to pay back a single Euro," he predicted.
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