The reforms agreed in the Euro Summit are absolutely necessary for growth and jobs, but must be coupled with ambitious investments. For 2014-2020 the EU is providing Greece with more than 35 billion euro, of which 20 billion come from the European Structural and Investment Funds, for the direct benefit of Greece and of the Greek people. Our funds will not solve the short-term liquidity problem that Greece is facing, but they can be decisive to set the basis for a crisis exit strategy.
I visited Greece at the end of May. I travelled over 1000 kilometres in six regions, and every single one kilometre of them had been co-financed by the Union, including the impressive bridge at Patras, the works of the Metro of Athens and its international airport.
I also saw technology centres, a collaborative workspace, a school, a clinic, all of these made possible thanks to EU funding. But above all, I met good and committed people, willing to work hard and trusting on European solidarity to offer hope for their future. I invited them to work closely together, in order to ensure we make the best possible use of the EU Funds.
We have done a lot so far in Greece; in the last years, Cohesion Policy sustained the vast majority of the public investments, by being the key source of financing for the real Greek economy.
At present, as an exceptional measure and given the unique situation of Greece, the Commission adopted a communication, where it sets out a number of proposals in order to release investments on the ground and help support growth and job creation in Greece:
For the period 2007-2013:
First, in order to address the severe liquidity problem, which puts at risk full use of the remaining funds, we propose that the last 5% of EU payments that are normally retained until closure in 2017 should be available right away;
Second, and with the same objective, we propose to remove completely the need for national co financing - so a co-financing rate of 100% would apply;
These exceptional measures would mean that an additional amount of about €500 million could be paid, as soon as the legislation is adopted, while around €800 million will be available earlier than closure in 2017. In addition, the reduced co-financing would benefit the Greek budget by around €2 billion in savings.
These measures would be subject to the Greek authorities establishing a mechanism to guarantee that additional amounts made available as a result, are fully used for the beneficiaries and operations under the programmes.
In parallel, for the period 2014-2020:
Third measure: the Commission proposes to increase the rate of initial pre-financing for cohesion policy programmes for 2014-2020 in Greece by 7 percentage points.
This extra pre-financing can make an additional €1 billion available which would make it possible to launch more projects, quicker, with the support of Cohesion Policy funds.
However, these proposals will require the agreement of both the European Parliament and the Council, in their capacity as the EU co-legislators.
These measures are budget neutral; this is a frontloading of resources that will help to relieve the liquidity problems currently holding back investments. This will also facilitate delivering faster results on the ground, in terms of business impact and job creation. Therefore, Cohesion Policy will continue to support the country's efforts to rebuild its economy and return to growth, to improve the daily life of people and mitigate the effects of the crisis.
I am confident that by working together under the High Level Group set by President Juncker and Prime Minister Tsipras and led by Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, we will achieve our common objectives and pave the way to sustainable growth and jobs and social inclusion for the benefit of all Greek citizens.
Δύσκολοι καιροί απαιτούν δύσκολες αποφάσεις. Είμαστε μία οικογένεια και οικογένεια σημαίνει o ένας να βοηθά τον άλλον
Which means "Difficult times require difficult decisions. We are a family and family means helping each other".