The European Commission has adopted a "Partnership Agreement" with Greece setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds in the country’s regions and cities for 2014-2020.
Today’s agreement paves the way for Greece’s return to recovery and growth, and its transformation into a productive economy. It sets out how 15.52 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding in current prices and 4.2 billion for rural development to be invested in the country’s real economy. The allocation under Fisheries and Maritime Policy will be finalised and published this summer. The EU investments will tackle unemployment, to create good lasting jobs boosting and growth through support to innovation, the low carbon economy and training and education. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight against social exclusion and make an important contribution to an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy.
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are:
– The European Regional Development Fund
The European Social Fund
The Cohesion Fund
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– The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
– The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "Today Greece has adopted a vital investment plan that ensures the country continues on the path to economic recovery and renewed growth for the coming decade. This Partnership Agreement reflects the commitment of both the European Commission and Greece to make the most of valuable EU funding and ensure the Greek economy gets back on track. Our investments will be strategic, according to the new Cohesion Policy focusing on the real economy, on sustainable growth and investing in people. But quality not speed is the paramount aim and in the coming months, we are fully dedicated to negotiating the best operational programmes for investments from the European Structural and Investment Funds in 2014-2020. Commitment is needed from both sides to ensure that good quality programmes are put in place."
Commissioner Hahn added: "Today’s agreement sets the foundations for a new growth model in Greece, thanks to EU investments. The adoption of the Partnership Agreement represents a timely support for current Greece’s efforts to exit from the crisis. Important strategic choices have been made to invest in the competitiveness and innovation of SMEs, sustainable job creation and tackling unemployment through capacity building and development of human resources. This and environmental protection, the modernisation of public administration and promotion of structural and administrative reforms as well as developing and completing key infrastructures are among the key strategic choices that will produce visible results in the near future. Greece has made smart choices and prioritised its investments accordingly. Tourism, energy, agro-food, environment, blue economy and logistics, will be the primary drivers for growth and jobs, while culture, specialised health services, aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, ICT, waste management, trade and freight transport services will also play a prominent role for Greece’s future growth model.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor said:
"I congratulate Greece for finalising its Partnership Agreement so quickly as a result of its intense collaboration with the Commission and I look forward to continuing this effort with other member states concerning their Operational Programmes. I am very pleased that Greece has decided to dedicate 31.13% of the Structural Funds resources under the growth and jobs objective – or nearly 4 billion – to the European Social Fund (ESF), in order to help move towards Greece’s 2020 targets on increasing employment and reducing poverty. ESF investments will support the country’s economic reconstruction by supporting entrepreneurship and job creation, improving the education and vocational training systems and modernising public administration. It will also support the most vulnerable people in society by helping to improve access to public services."
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolo? said:
"This Greek partnership agreement is an important step forward for elaborating and implementing a successful rural development policy in Greece, facilitating better coordination and synergies with other EU Funds and therefore providing more efficient investment. Greece’s agriculture and its rural areas have a large potential and many strengths, but they are also facing considerable challenges, not least as a result of the economic crisis. The partnership agreement recognises the important role that agriculture and the agi-food industry can play in the economic recovery, while setting the stage for safeguarding the country’s natural resources and addressing social issues in its rural areas. It is now up to Greece to propose an ambitious, balanced and well-targeted rural development plan that can provide opportunities for farmers and rural areas to address these challenges."
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said:
"The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is about investing in local coastal communities to help them unlock the development and jobs needed to face the crisis. The great change we have introduced was to increase European funding to small scale fisheries and to the local economy in order to secure a better future of our fishermen and coastal communities. For Greece in particular, the greatest challenge but also the most promising opportunity is to boost the country’s Blue Growth potential, taking advantage of its longstanding tradition and experience in marine and maritime sectors: maritime tourism, marine energy, bottom sea exploitation and aquaculture in addition to maritime transport and port development. We will not prescribe how every single cent should be spent. There is flexibility to let the Greek authorities and those who know their craft best – industry and local regions – to work towards a sustainable future for their own communities."
All Partnership Agreements have now been received by the Commission. Their adoption will follow after a process of consultation.