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EU says to speed up billions in aid for Greek economy

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(BRUSSELS) - EU officials said on Tuesday they want to speed up payment of about 7.7 billion euros ($10.5 billion) already allocated to Greece for the period through to 2013, in a bid to modernise the Greek economy.

The European Commission said the money, out of a total of about 14 billion euros due to be paid to Greece under economic development aid plans that apply to all 27 EU member states, would help drive "competitiveness, growth and employment" in the country.

It is about "helping Greece to establish measures necessary to ensure its own financial viability as well as that of the eurozone," said Olivier Bailly, a senior spokesman for the EU executive.

The commission was setting out the initial results of work by a Brussels-based experts set up "under the political guidance" of EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, one of the principal international bailout negotiators.

Bailly said the 7.7 billion euro amount was for "dormant projects that can be reactivated."

The head of the "task force" of EU experts headed to Athens on Tuesday to look at how best to target so-called EU "structural, cohesion and regional" funding that all member states can apply to obtain, with the aim of ensuring it is used to boost Greece's economy.

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