Brussels, 21 September 2011
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn proposes action plan for improved EU structural fund investments in Greece
European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, today in Athens, concluded a seminar with all Greek Ministers responsible and regional governors to improve the investment of EU structural funds in Greece. Improving the uptake of EU co-funding is the key factor to create economic growth and improve competitiveness in Greece in the years ahead. An action plan was drawn up, which consists of two major pillars:
The drawing up of a list of viable and high quality projects, to invest in all Greek regions, in order to make maximal use of the remaining allocation until the end of this financial programming period in 2013 of around 15 billion Euro in EU funding from the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund. A list of some 100 projects to be carried out before the end of this year was presented on Wednesday, highlighting at least 5 high quality projects for each of the thirteen Greek regions. A final list of major projects to be implemented by the end of this funding period will be drawn up with the Greek authorities in the next ten days, with clear deadlines for all projects and showing who has responsibility. Proposed projects range from infrastructural investments in transport, energy and environment, to innovation, digital infrastructure, tourism, culture and the fostering of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as quick providers of new jobs. Regarding SMEs, the Commission is exploring the possibility to extend the scope of existing funds to offer guarantees to them on a temporary basis.
A major drive to reduce bureaucratic procedures in the application and handling of European co-funded projects. In the field of expropriation procedures the Greek authorities will table by the end of the year a legislative proposal to shorten and simplify procedures, to improve major infrastructural works, for instance in the field of transport. Regarding the licensing of environmental permits, by mid October a new law will enter into force to drastically shorten the assignment time of permits, by at least one year to a maximum of six months, with the sole responsibility of one authority ensuring a quicker handling of procedures. Commissioner Hahn will monitor this process personally and will visit Greece again before the end of this year. If required, further changes will be proposed.
The Task Force for Greece of the European Commission is closely involved. Among a wide range of its competencies linked to the implementing of reforms under the IMF/ECB programme the Task Force is also mandated to assist in this process of quicker uptake of EU funds. It will therefore undertake a further scrutiny of a broad range of procedures to reduce cumbersome and time consuming bureaucracy and assist Greece in implementing quickly the agreed projects.
The joint press conference in Athens by Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Michalis Chrysochoidis, Greek Minister for Regional Development and Competitiveness will be retransmitted via EbS today at 3 p.m.