Brussels, 24 October 2014
Commissioner Hahn completes his tour of Greece's 13 regions with North Aegean and Western Macedonia
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn is visiting EU supported projects and meeting local representatives in Kozani, Western Macedonia today completing his tour of the 13 Greek regions which he began two years ago.
In 2014-2020 Greece will receive more than 15 billion EURO for investments under EU Cohesion Policy to stimulate growth and the creation of jobs. Currently the 13 regions are negotiating their operational programmes on how the investments can be best spent to help Greece's recovery.
At the core of the visit to Kozani, as well as Mytilini in North Aegean yesterday, is how EU Regional Policy can help Greek regions develop their competitive advantages. The visit comes at the end of Commissioner Hahn's mandate in charge of EU Regional Policy.
Commissioner Hahn said: "This series of journeys, undertaken over 2 years across Greece has been extraordinarily inspiring. In October 2012, I decided to embark on this tour of the 13 regions after a meeting with the recently elected governors in Athens. At a time when all the talk was about austerity, I wanted to hear and see for myself what people were experiencing and how they thought EU Regional Policy could help their villages and cities to recover."
"Today I complete this tour in Western Macedonia. I have met many people and seen an exceptional dynamism and determination across the country, even at the most severe moments of the crisis. And I am more convinced than ever that Greece's regions are the key to the country's recovery and its transformation into a productive economy."
"Our new Regional Policy for 2014-2020 provides the tool to bring this about: creating jobs by supporting the real economy and focusing on key growth sectors - and crucially helping regions to identify their particular strengths and competitive advantages."
"Whether it is through supporting the agro-food sector, aquaculture, sustainable tourism, linking entrepreneurship to research and development or promoting renewables, energy efficiency and economically advantageous waste management - these are all ways that the regions are taking advantage of what the European Structural and Investment Funds can offer. This is what forms the basis of our Partnership Agreement approved in May with Greece, and the Operational programmes which will be agreed with each of the 13 Regions with their dedicated investments."
On Thursday, Commissioner Hahn met the Governor of North Aegean Christiane Kalogirou in Mytilini as well as debating the way ahead with other local representatives and leading businesses in the region. The Commissioner also visited projects including the Petrified Forest Museum of Lesbos and the site of the future Marine Museum which he cited as a model for green and blue growth in the country. In Western Macedonia, Commissioner Hahn is meeting the Governor of the region Theodoros Karipidis and other local representatives. He is also due to visit EU supported projects including Kozani's innovative heating system, and laboratories in the Technological Educational Institute of W Macedonia which aim to better connect business and research facilities.
More info on Greece and Cohesion Policy 2014-2020
photos and film N Aegean and W Macedonia