ECONOMY

EU Commissioner Hahn upbeat on outlook for four Greek highway projects

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said on Friday that he had received virtually all the information needed to approve works on four major Greek highways and insisted that his cooperation with Greek authorities was “excellent” despite reports of a dispute between the two sides.

“I am very confident that we are in the advanced stages of concluding the matter of the motorway concessions,” Hahn told Kathimerini in Brussels. “I fully expect these to be adopted as major projects co-financed by the EU in the near future,” he said, noting that he had “received the information from Athens that we require for the adoption of the motorway projects except for a final confirmation from the Greek side that all the agreements with the parties concerned in Greece are concluded.” “Once we have that, adoption can take place,” he said.

The commissioner emphasized that he was “well aware of the importance of these projects for the Greek economy and of the important role of EU Regional Funds in putting Greece on the path to growth and supporting its citizens.”

Hahn is to visit Epirus and the island of Corfu on November 4 and 5, his fourth visit to Greece this year and part of a tour of all 13 regions to help local representatives and business people plan funding for 2014 to 2020.

On Thursday, Minister Costis Hatzidakis had issued a statement that appeared to question the stance of the European Commission. “As regards the Development and Competitiveness Ministry, the preparatory work has been completed,” he said. He said the draft plan for the revision of the EU’s National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) based on a previous agreement with the EC had been sent by the Greek side on September 15. Appeals for amendments were subsequently dispatched, he said, adding that the necessary funding for the motorways was set at 1.2 billion euros. “All that remains is for the Commission to take the relevant decisions, based on the discussions that have preceded,” Hatzidakis had added in his statement on Thursday, noting however that Greece’s cooperation with the EC is “very good.”