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Measures to help crisis-hit countries to use much needed EU funds have been proposed today by the European Commission. The measures would help these Member States to tackle youth unemployment, to support small and medium sized business and to pay for key infrastructure projects.
In the absence of this proposed measure, Cohesion Policy investments for growth could be lost because of a lack of time to spend the money or because of the difficulty of finding national and private co-finance in the current economic climate.
The proposal, prompted by requests from EU governments and from the European Council, will now be sent to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.
The first measure would help to deliver around €500m growth promoting investments more quickly to Greece, Cyprus and Portugal. This would increase the EU contribution of Cohesion Policy investments and allow a lower national share. This would prolong an agreement on co-financing from December 2011 for another two years. It would also ease the strain on national budgets but involves no new money from the EU.
The second measure proposed today would give Romania and Slovakia more time to spend Cohesion Policy money. This would allow for better selection and implementation of strategic projects - for example to boost the competitiveness of SMEs and get young people into jobs.