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South Aegean

(22 - 04 - 2014)

South Aegean

Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn is in the Greek region South Aegean on 22-23 April to attend the Conference on Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR) Islands Commission General Assembly in Rhodes.

On 23 April the Commissioner will also meet with the Governor of the South Aegean Region Mr Yiannis Mahairidis and representatives of local authorities and entrepreneurs to discuss how South Aegean can best take advantage of the new cohesion policy for 2014-2020 by specializing in sectors with growth potential. The strategy for economic growth in South Aegean will focus on smart specialisation around a number of innovation platforms like eco-tourism, agro-food sector, experience industry, environmental protection and revalorisation of the outstanding natural, cultural and historical heritage. A special emphasis will be put on ICT technologies supporting the sectors of the regional economy in order to overcome the challenge of the remoteness and insularity of the Aegean islands and to improve the quality of life and increase the competitiveness of SMEs.

South Aegean is the 10th region of the 13 Greek regions the Commissioner has visited so far where he will also visit EU financed projects.

The South Aegean Region consists of the Cyclades and Dodecanese island groups (79 islands) in the central and southeastern Aegean Sea. The capital of the region is situated in Ermoupoli on the island of Syros. The region is divided into 13 regional units, formed around major islands: Andros, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kea-Kythnos, Kos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Syros, Thira (Santorini) and Tinos. South Aegean covers an area of 5,286 km2 (4% of GR) and has a population of 310,805 in 2011 (2.75% of the GR population). The high regional GDP (114% of the EU average in 2009) is mainly due to tourism, which is concentrated in certain islands (e.g. Rhodes, Kos, Santorin, Mykonos).


What are the region's priorities?

The strategy of the Region for 2014-2020 aims to enhance competitiveness and attractiveness and to make the region a "top experience destination” (tourism, culture and creative industry) and mitigate the insularity while ensuring sustainable development. In this framework, the priorities of the region are the following:

- Mitigate the insularity, the problems relating to transport and access to markets;

- Ensure sustainable development and rational use of resources;

- Reinforce the economic base of the Region, develop innovation and ICT, improve networks and services and support manufacturing in order to diversify economic activity which is mainly based on tourism;

- Support employment, retain the population, promote social inclusion and fight poverty.


How is EU regional policy contributing?

For the 2007-2013 period, South Aegean has been allocated €280 million (EU contribution EUR 140 million) within the Operational Programme '"Crete and Aegean Islands"which amounts EUR 1.1 billion (EU contribution EUR 863.3 million) in total.

For the 2014-2020 period South Aegean is classified as more developed region and will have its own regional programme. The financial allocation for 2014-2020 for this region amounts to 241, 5 M€ under the ERDF and ESF whereas 11, 5 M€ are also programmed under Cohesion Fund.


Projects examples:

Restoration of the Grand Master's Palace in the medieval city of Rhodes: EU and national financing EUR 1.400.000

The Palace of the Grand Master is the major tourist attraction of the Medieval Town of Rhodes. The whole site, which also includes the Hospital of the Knights (now an Archaeological Museum) and many other Medieval and Ottoman monuments located in the Street of the Knights, is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

The project «Restoration of collapsing of dangerous parts of the Grand Master’s Palace in the Medieval city of Rhodes» includes the restoration of collapsing and dangerous parts of the Palace, as well as works for the insulation of the building: restoration of the battlements of the south gate and of the south-eastern tower, restoration of the battlements and the parapet crowing the main building of the palace, as well as insulation its masonry and terrace.


Restoration of the Hospitaller battery of the bastion of the Grand Master's Palace: EU and national financing EUR 300.000

The composite massive fortification complex developed in stages to the north of the complex of the Grand Master’s palace included in its upper level the famous Renaissance garden of the Grand Master.

The monument had largely collapsed and the project includes the reconstruction and restoration of the portico of the Hospitaller battery and the restoration of the ancillary buildings. Once the works are completed the whole fortification complex will be open for visitors as an integral annex of the Grand Master’s palace. Furthermore, it will be possible to lay out the historical garden and to use the space as a venue for events and receptions of major conferences.


Rural Broadband infrastructure project: EU contribution (ERDF+EAFRD) EUR 133.8 million

This ICT major project aim is to reduce the digital gap in rural and remote areas of Greece – crucially on its islands –among them South Aegean islands- and mountains, through developing a fibre optical cable network. This means around 600,000 more people will be able to access to high speed internet, living in more than 5,400 rural and island areas which account for approximately 40% of the country. Broadband coverage will improve business environment for SMEs, will increase productivity and attract future investments.


Melissokomiki Dodecanesou: EU and national financing EUR 637.000

This is the biggest company in the Dodecanese (12 islands) producing and packaging beehive products. It cooperates with more than 70 beekeepers from all the islands of the nearby area. The company which is modernizing and expanding constantly into new areas runs an integrated beekeeping business with up to 20 employees receiving almost the total production of honey from five islands of the Dodecanese (Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Halki, Tilos). It produces around 500 different products which are sold in Greece or exported.

The EU co financed investment consists in the standardisation of the traditional product "melekouni" (a sweet based on honey which was traditionally offered at weddings), the construction of two-storey buildings with a total surface of 800 m² and mechanical equipment for a second production line. The company also operates a shop, an exhibition on the history of beekeeping from antiquity to the present day which attracts scholars and tourists and an apiculture school.


Further information:

Intermediate Managing Authority of the South Aegean Region

South Aegean Tourism Portal

Smart Specialisation Strategy for South Aegean (Draft strategy currently under consultation)