EU funds absorption is at 66 percent

Environment projects funded by the Third Community Support Framework continue to show a low absorption rate, as do railway projects and those in the northern Aegean. Greece’s absorption rate of the European Union-sponsored funds stands today at 66 percent, while EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner attributes the lag both to the delay in the projects and in the inability of fund recipients (municipal or state bodies in most cases) to proceed at a rapid pace. The commissioner answered a question from a Greek European Parliament deputy, saying that by the end of November 2007 the absorption of EU funds by Greece was at -15.14 billion, or 65.78 percent. There is a slower rate in the national projects on «railways-airports, city transport,» on «environment,» on «technical assistance» and on the local program for the northern Aegean and the city of Komotini, in Thrace. The regional policy commissioner said that among the projects with the lowest absorption rate are the construction of the new road between Lianokladi and Domokos, in central Greece, and the modernization of the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) and the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), along with the promotion of the EU directive on the quality of water. Hubner put the blame on delays in approving plans for the 2000-2006 period, on the inability of fund recipients to manage projects and on the forest fires of last August.