ECONOMY

A fifth of CSFIII funds received by end of May

Projects financed by European community funds are on track and Greece stands in no danger of losing any financial aid allocated under the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII), Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas said yesterday. The reassurance came after the government last month said it would not seek some 370 million euros in reimbursement from Brussels for projects financed by the second tranche of community funds due to irregularities in several of the programs. This meant Greece would have to pay for the entire cost of the projects itself. The 370 million euros represented just 2 percent of the Second Community Support Framework (CSFII) budget, significantly lower than the 8-percent shortfall recorded in the first program, Pachtas had said. EU Regional Policy Commissioner Michel Barnier said no one EU country had received full reimbursement for their total outlay under CSFII. The inflow of EU funds to date amounts to 4.6 billion euros, comprising both the outlay for 2001 and more than two-thirds of the disbursement for the 2001-2002 period, Pachtas said. «We have received a fifth of the community funds by end-May,» he pointed out. The State contributed 17.8 billion euros up to the end of May, amounting to 57 percent of the total budget. Some 9,200 projects have already been approved for EU funding at the end of May, Pachtas said. The program CSFIII, which runs from 2000 to 2006, is seen as Greece’s last chance to bring the country up to EU level with Brussels’s assistance. About 80 percent of the funds have been allocated for regional growth, with projects ranging from transportation to education to information technology. EU funding is expected to fall drastically in the coming years as Brussels tackles the 10 new and poorer member states which are due to join the union next year. Greece has asked that impoverished regions should still qualify for financial aid even after the enlargement process. Brussels has yet to make a decision on this matter.