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Brussels Welcomes Hardouvelis

The first crash test for the new czar of Greek Economy will be held in Luxembourg on 19 and 20 June, with the new Minister to preside at the last Ecofin meeting during the Greek Presidency.

A senior Community official who is close to the discussions for Greece said that Brussels will welcome the new Minister of Finance, and will await update as usual thinking about what to do in relation to the fulfillment of prerequisites, the continued implementation of the Greek program.

The first crash test for the new czar of Greek Economy will be held in Luxembourg on 19 and 20 June, with the new Minister to preside over the last Ecofin meeting on Greek Presidency.

However in Europe there will be no grace period. Whether the relationship between the two sides will be successful or not will be judged solely by how many of the prerequisites (12 to the end of another month) will be closed, whether the two sub-tranches be released without significant delay and whether would be common sense in discussions on the future of the Greek program.

With the exception of the new Finance minister Gikas Hardouvelis, a respected economist with huge academic and financial institutions experience taking over from Yiannis Stournaras who is tipped to be the next Bank of Greece governor, most of the new ministers have either a heavy political baggage, or have shown few administrative skills given their young age.

As Financial Times's  Kerin Hope notes “ Mr Hardouvelis, a US-trained economist, heads the economic team at  Eurobank's,  the fourth largest Greek lender, and also holds a chair in banking and financial economics at Greece’s University of Piraeus. He has steered clear of political affiliations, even though he served in the early 2000s as an economic adviser to Costas Simitis, the prime minister who took Greece into the Eurozone .”

Greece's government named economist Gikas Hardouvelis as finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday, signaling an intent to keep up a difficult reform drive demanded by foreign lenders funding the country , Reuters suggests.

A professor and adviser to previous governments, Hardouvelis is considered similar to his predecessor Yannis Stournaras, also an economist and technocrat who steered Greece towards economic recovery after it nearly crashed out of the euro zone  in 2012.

But while the 58-year-old chief economist at Eurobank is expected to maintain the same focus on fiscal rigour, he is likely also to push for growth by cutting taxes.

According to New York Times “ The new finance minister, Gikas Hardouvelis, a respected university professor and former government adviser, will replace Yannis Stournaras and try to enact a tough economic reform program that has been imposed by the country’s international creditors in exchange for continued rescue loans “

Hardouvelis will try to lead the debt-stricken nation out of six-year recession and strike a deal with euro-area member states later this year on relieving some of Greece’s debt burden, Bloomberg reports . Debt is forecast to peak this year at 117.2 percent of gross domestic product, or 322 billion euros ($438 billion), according to the latest review of the country’s bailout program.

Gikas Hardouvelis, supporter of structural reforms and a smaller but effective public sector, he has said that Greece's growth plan should focus on exports and investment to make the economy more competitive and the country more business-friendly, says Reuters's Renee Maltezou adds “Hardouvelis has said that a consensus on reforms is necessary among all major political parties in Greece.”