New regional authorities will manage EU funds of 7 bln euros

By Evgenia Tzortzi

The new regional authorities to emerge from yesterday’s and next Sunday’s polls will have the power to administrate funds amounting to 7 billion euros from the new funding period of the European Commission-supported subsidy program.

This is the first time in recent years that the handling of EU subsidies has been put in the hands of the heads of regional authorities, a departure from the system that applied until now, according to which funds granted to regions were ultimately administered by ministries.

In the previous funding period, when the National Strategic Reference Framework concerned more subsidies, regions were officially granted 8 billion euros. In practice, however, over half that money was handed out by the ministries, inciting the anger of the country’s regional authorities.

The new funding program is radically changing the philosophy governing the management of resources by granting the leading role to local authorities, which in cooperation with the central government will select the projects that are to be co-funded, and then supervise their implementation.

The distribution of the money from the program provides for the direct investment of funds amounting to 5.5 billion euros through 13 regional subsidy programs, which remain intact, unlike the plans of the ministries that have been cut back. Regional authorities are also being given a role in the management of the Agricultural Development Program, administering 30 percent of resources – i.e. about 1.5 billion euros – to reach a total of 7 billion euros.

The program for agricultural development includes major irrigation projects and actions for presenting the results of rural research and for promoting innovation in the sector.

The distribution of the funds from local authority resources will include 783.4 million euros from the Transport Infrastructures, Environment and Sustainable Development Program that will be conceded to the regional authorities. These funds will then be used for the implementation mainly of liquid waste management projects.