Commissioner Hahn meets President Christofias, concludes visit to Cyprus
24.02.2012 European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn confirmed today in Nicosia that the experts of the European Commission Directorate General for Regional Policy have advised not to activate the EU Solidarity Fund in response to last July's explosion at Mari.
Replying to a question in a press conference held at EU House, Commissioner Hahn said that the Fund in principle can only be used to cover costs caused by catastrophes with a natural cause. The assessment, said the Commissioner, is that this disaster was caused due to a technological failure. By now insurance companies have lifted reservations and accepted liability claims for the costs of restoring the power station and interim payments by insurers have already taken place.
Earlier in the day, Commissioner Hahn met President Christophias with whom he discussed the future of EU Cohesion Policy as well as the state of the talks between the two communities in Cyprus and the future of the island. The Commissioner also met with the newly elected President of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and Mayor of Famagusta Mr Alexis Galanos, Mayor of Limassol Mr Andreas Christou, and representatives of other major municipalities. He also met senior officials in the Ministry of Finance and the Planning Bureau to discuss preparations for the upcoming Cyprus EU Presidency.
In the aftermath of the day's meetings, Commissioner Hahn said: "Today, I have understood that I can count on all major players to try to reach an agreement with the Member States and the European Parliament on this. Let me say that, after all the meetings I have had so far, I look very much forward to this cooperation. Of course, reaching a final deal on our new proposals is in the interest of Cyprus, too. Therefore I have noted a strong intention to finalise a deal by the end of the year."
Referring to the proposals on regional policy for the 2014-2020, Commissioner Hahn said that they represent a watershed. The proposals will bring in groundbreaking changes, to improve the impact of funding, by setting targets for investments and focusing the funds available on a limited number of essential themes.
With respect to Cyprus, Commissioner Hahn said that targeted investments in innovation and research infrastructure in marine culture and energy efficiency could prove to be trump cards for the future. Smart investments in solar energy, for instance, would make the country less dependent on traditional energy sources. "From my point of view", said the Commissioner, "Cyprus has adapted relatively quickly and in a thorough way to the use of EU funding in an appropriate way. Projects are being realised on the ground, creating jobs and growth. The absorption of EU funding is in line or slightly above the average rate. I would like to commend the Cypriot authorities on this. And urge them to keep up the good works".