We care about Greece. Greece is a member of the European family. The Commission will support the country's efforts to rebuild its economy and return to growth. This is what I said to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras when I met him on the occasion of my first official visit to his country.
European Structural and Investment Funds are vital to address the pressing needs of the Greek population today, as well as to pave the way for the future. We will work hand in hand with the Greek authorities to make the most out of EU funds, with the citizens’ best interests at heart. That is why we decided to set up a Joint Working Groupto help Greece make the most out of the remaining EU funds from the 2007-2013 programming period. This Joint Working Group will capitalize on the success of the Task Force on Better Implementation that I created in November 2014 when I took office as Commissioner for Regional Policy.
This is a concrete measure that shows our readiness to help the Greek people and Greece’s economy in any way we can. Now it is up to our Greek partners to deliver, by swiftly implementing the new programmes for 2014-2020, all adopted in December. Here again we are ready to work closely with them and to provide technical assistance where needed.
My exchanges with the Greek Ministers involved in the shared management of European Structural and Investment Funds and the Governors of all 13 Greek regions were friendly, honest and constructive. We all have the same objective: to work as real partners, in a constant dialogue, to lay the ground for the future prosperity of the country with the help of EU funds.
For this we need strategic and result-oriented investments in the regions' most competitive fields, identified in the regional Smart Specialisation Strategies. I congratulate the Greek authorities on the good progress in the adoption of these Strategies; the Greek regions have so much potential! I’m travelling through Epirus, Attika, Thessaly, Continental Greece and Western Greece and I have the opportunity to see the tangible impact that our funds have on the ground.
I can’t stress enough that Greece’s strengths are our strengths, and that its problems are our problems; only a strong partnership between the Commission and Greece will put the country back on the right track.