The Court of European Union has accepted the claim made by Greece to freeze the return of the so-called “Hatzigakis Packet,” referring to EU subsidies given farmers in 2009 under the administration of then Minister of Agricultural Development Sotirios Hatzigakis.
Along with the then Vice-Minister of Economics, Greece disbursed 802 million Euros through ELGA (Greek Organization of Agricultural Insurance) to farmers. The European Commission examined the legitimacy of these payments and found out that 422.8 million Euros were unlawfully paid.
Hatzigakis tried to convince the then Commissioner of Agriculture that payments were legitimate according to European laws which concern state payments to others. After the election of 2009, the new Minister, Kostas Scandalidis asked the court not to force the return of the funds because of the country’s crushing economic crisis.
The Court accepted the arguments mostly in the base of Greece’s current economic situation believing the government’s argument that the collection of that amount at the present time would cause huge social unrest among farmers and it would distort the Greek economy. The current Minister of Agricultural Development, Athanasios Tsaftaris, welcomed the decision.
(Sources: in.gr, Ethnos)