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Important achievements with structural funds in Greece but still big challenges ahead

(25 July 2013)

Important achievements with structural funds in Greece but still big challenges ahead

Commissioner Hahn has congratulated the Greek government on progress in investing EU structural funds for the country's recovery, but he also urged banks to do their bit to support businesses in Greece and called for greater efforts in planning the next period 2014-20 of  investments under EU Regional Policy.

During his visit this week (25/7)  Commissioner Hahn met  Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and the Minister of Development, Competitiveness and Kostis Hadjidakis.

The key topics of discussion  in the long meeting with Minister Hadjidakis, was the  progress of absorption of the NSRF, the preparation of the new programming period 2014-2020, the state of play of negotiations for the so called motorway "concessions" and progress implementing other priority projects.

Particularly on Greece's progress in spending and implementing its allocation of structural funds, Commissioner Hahn had words of  congratulations for the government and Ministry officials for what has been achieved.

Greece's "absorption" rate is now well above the EU average at 67.5% . It has also exceeded the current  target set by the so called Memorandum of Understanding by 70%.

Commissioner Hahn drew special attention to the problem of providing liquidity to small and medium sized businesses. Though money is now available to Greek banks for lending through both the European Investment Bank and €500m of structural fund guarantees, they are not being provided to SMEs. Commissioner  Hahn said the significant funds are available  but they have not yet reached all the real economy. Recapitalization of banks should not stop  providing liquidity to businesses.

On planning for the next period, Commissioner Hahn underlined the importance of a strategic approach to planning the investments with EU structural funds. Guided by the reformed Cohesion Policy, he said the focus should be on where Greece already had a competitive advantage, building on the country's many assets . "Structural Funds is not a Christmas tree!", he told journalists in Athens after the meetings.

Kostis Hatzidakis, on the right, and Johannes Hahn Johannes Hahn, on the right, and Panayotis Carvounis, Head of the EC Representation in GreeceJohannes Hahn, in the centre, and Panayotis Carvounis, Head of the EC Representation in Greece, 1st from the left Discussion between Kostis Hatzidakis, on the left, and Johannes HahnJohannes Hahn, on the left, and Panayotis Carvounis, Head of the EC Representation in GreeceMeeting in the presence of Kostis Hatzidakis, on the right, and Johannes Hahn, on the leftMeeting in the presence of Kostis Hatzidakis, 2nd from the left, Johannes Hahn, 1st from the right, and Panayotis Carvounis, Head of the EC Representation in Greece, 2nd from the leftJohannes Hahn, on the left, and Kostis HatzidakisHandshake between Kostis Hatzidakis, on the right, and Johannes HahnJohannes HahnJohannes Hahn, on the left, and Kostis Hatzidakis