Germany, Greece to discuss help for Greek small companies

BERLIN Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:15pm BST

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends a news briefing after talks with his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar at the finance ministry in Berlin, May 22 , 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends a news briefing after talks with his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar at the finance ministry in Berlin, May 22 , 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will discuss setting up a bilateral programme to help small and medium-sized companies in Greece, as it has done with Spain, at a meeting in Athens, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Monday.

Greece has expressed interest in receiving the same sort of support for lending to small businesses that Germany agreed with Spain this month.

Schaeuble said he would discuss the plan with his Greek counterpart, Yannis Stournaras, at ministerial meetings in Luxembourg this week and at another meeting in Athens soon.

"He invited me to Athens and we will soon discuss their how we can apply the bilateral initiative with Spain to support small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and therefore create jobs to Greece by quickly setting up a Greek state development bank for example," Schaeuble said in a statement after speaking to Stournaras by telephone at the weekend.

Germany has agreed to grant Spanish SMEs about 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion) in aid as part of a push to combat rising unemployment in southern Europe.

EU leaders agreed earlier this year to free up 6 billion euros over a seven-year period to fight youth unemployment and Germany, frustrated with the slow pace of European institutional progress, is pushing for that sum to be deployed rapidly.

Youth unemployment has risen above 60 percent in Greece and stands at more than 50 percent in Spain.

Greece's fiscal problems are back in the limelight after the government abruptly shut down state broadcaster ERT last week as a way to save money and meet the terms of its international bailout.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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