The European Union has agreed to lift a controversial trade embargo on Greece to allow the country to join the bloc.EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the move will ease economic pressure on Greece, where unemployment is more than 40 percent and wages are often low.
The bloc is hoping the agreement will help the economy recover and prevent a repeat of the crisis that ravaged the European continent last year.EU leaders agreed to suspend trade with Greece in February following a Greek government crackdown on anti-government protests and an EU-led bailout deal.
Malmstrom had hoped the move would be temporary.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had sought to renegotiate the terms of the deal, and the EU agreed to extend it through to May.
The agreement will allow Greece to join in 2019, but it will be five years from now before Athens can receive an official membership award.
Greece was set to join all of the 27 other EU nations in the EU’s free trade zone, and its economy grew by more than 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2019.
Greece also holds a number of free trade deals with the United States and China.
The EU-member nation had been under an embargo for a year because of a series of corruption scandals that exposed a massive tax fraud that the country says benefited wealthy Greeks.
The country’s prime minister had called on the EU to lift the embargo as soon as possible, arguing it would create jobs and boost economic growth.
The Greek government said it would resume its participation in the bloc’s single market and open up access to other countries.