By Evgenia Tzortzi
The country has to absorb funds totaling 4.2 billion euros from the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) within 2013, while by the end of the first quarter it will need to have completed the Third Community Support Framework, the previous Brussels-funded package of subsidies pending since 2009.
At the same time, the government is hoping to begin planning for the next ESPA, which starts in 2014, for which some 16.5 billion euros of European Union funds have been committed, not including money put aside by the EU for agricultural development.
These issues will be discussed during a cabinet meeting on Friday, while the Development Ministry, which is responsible for the core planning, is expressing optimism regarding the efficient and timely absorption of the funds. The ministry’s optimism is based on its having successfully reached its target for 2012, as well as on the high ranking this country enjoys among European states regarding the absorption of EU subsidies.
The latest figures show the subsidy absorption rate at 55 percent. Based on February data, disbursements since 2007 have come to 11.2 billion euros out of a total of 20.2 billion penciled in by the current ESPA after the cuts to the program through the reduction of the state’s contribution.
The Development Ministry is preparing a second package for the simplification of procedures that would make the process of including projects in the framework quicker and easier. Among the priorities for this year are the exclusion of projects that are not implemented within schedule and the transfer of those that will not have been completed by 2015 as starting points for the next funding period, from 2014 to 2020.